Hawaii tourism plagued by COVID-19

Published on : Thursday, March 12, 2020

The topmost industry of Hawaii is currently staggering as COVID-19 concerns are affecting travel plans.


Carl Bonham, of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, forecasts 4,000 jobs in 2020 will be lost and a 10 percent drop in visitor spending.


“Some people being laid off or furloughed so it’s a relatively dire situation,” Bonham explained.


Cleo McKeague has remained associated with telecommunications for the Hilton Hawaiian Village for over 30 years. She has been represented by the Local 5 hotel workers union for her entire career.


“I love working with my coworkers and being a union member,” she tells KITV4.
Of late, she’s experiencing the tourism industry of the local region a downturn firsthand.


She informs KITV4 in the last week more than 100 of her coworkers have been laid off.


“Right now we are unsure, we are scared,” added McKeague, mentioning that in 30 years the only other time she’s witnessed precipitous of an industry downturn was after the attacks on September 11, 2001.


Nevertheless, she understands why there is a drop, and gives importance to public safety. For her and her coworkers, it’s a grim catch-22. They want jobs but at the same time they don’t want at-risk people traveling in the middle of this fatal disease outbreak.


“You know what it’s not just about us as workers we’re looking out for everyone we’re getting affected but you know it’s the safety of everyone,” McKeague explains.


A spokesperson for Hilton Hawaiian Village provided the following statement:


“At this time, our focus is on the health and wellbeing of our guests and Team Members. It is too early to understand the likely impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the global travel industry, however previous events lead us to believe that travelers may be cautious. As a result, we are working with managers across some of our operations to ensure labor hours are matched to guest demand. We remain diligent in our commitment to provide a safe, hospitable environment for all who visit our properties. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 updates from local and international health authorities, and encourage our guests to do the same.”


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