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Hawaii hotels are beginning to see mounting cancellations as COVID surge continues

File photo of Waikiki Beach
File photo of Waikiki Beach(Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources/file)
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 5:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - About a week after Gov. David Ige asked tourists to stay home, and as COVID cases continue to surge in the islands, Hawaii hotels are seeing an increase in cancellations.

“We’re seeing cancellations, loss of revenues. It’s not just confined to hotels. We’re hearing it from other tourism-related businesses: attractions, restaurants, retail,” said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

“The bottom line is we are hurting. We are seeing losses.”

Hawaii’s hotel industry lost thousands of jobs during the pandemic. If the cancellations continue, some experts worry that more jobs will be lost.

“Right now, no question, September and October will be very bad, and my concern is we’re going to put people back out of work. We’re going to hurt our economy,” said Keith Vieira, of KV & Associates Hospitality Consulting.

Hawaii News Now has learned that one upscale hotel operator recently decided to lay off about a dozen workers due to the slowdown.

The governor acknowledged last week that his plea for tourists to to stay home will likely hurt the economy. But he said preventing Hawaii’s healthcare system from being overrun by new COVID-19 cases takes a priority.

“We look forward to welcoming more tourists back to our islands as soon as we can flatten the curve and ensure that our hospitals have the capacity to provide quality care to all those who need it,” the governor said.

Hannemann said he understands the governor has to make a tough choice but he said he hoped he would have focused on visitors who have not been vaccinated.

“We can’t revisit history but if the message were more targeted ― that unvaccinated travelers not to come to Hawaii, I think that might have been a better result,” Hannemann said.

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