Hawaii is seeing a tourism boom. The governor isn’t sure it will last.

Published: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:33 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:40 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s economy is enjoying an unexpected surge of North American travelers, who are flocking to the islands as vaccinations increase and restrictions ease.

But the governor doesn’t think the boom will last.

In an interview this week, Gov. David Ige said Hawaii has a reputation as a COVID-safe destination and is enjoying the results of pent-up travel demand.

Holding Hawaii back?

There’s still very little travel from Japan because a quarantine remains in place there. “I don’t see an end to that, but clearly the vaccinations are occurring in the US,” he said. I do think that travel for vaccinated individuals may be able to occur without quarantine.”

Damon Caruana and his family came to Hawaii from California for their first trip since the pandemic.

“Ready to get out of the house and do some outdoor activities,” said Caruana.

“It was awesome,” he added.

Bruce Fisher, of Hawaii Aloha Travel, says he went from three to 10 agents to meet the demand.

“The pent up demand has been really amazing. We are getting calls every day from people who want to come in June and July,” said Fisher.

“It’s been really really busy. Overwhelming,” he added.

The US airlines are still barred from flying many international destinations so they’re putting more planes on Hawaii routes.

“I saw the report on seats to Hawaii in June and it’s up 20% over pre-pandemic levels to more than 1 million seats this month,” Ige said.

But he warns the bubble could pop after the summer.

“We are seeing a surge in North American travelers, but that’s going to burst and we’ll get back to normal travel patterns,” he said.

On Friday, at Honolulu’s airport, there was a steady flow of people. But at Japan Airlines, there were empty counters and kiosks covered in plastic.

As Japan grapples with the Olympics and low vaccination rate, Ige says Hawaii still hopes to open borders. “We are working with our government to enable travel to Japan because it is such an important market for us,” said Ige.

He adds the tourism recovery from the Asia market may not happen until late 2021 or early 2022.

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