The safe travel program of Hawaii is attracting visitors but slowly

 Tuesday, November 10, 2020

On a Friday morning overcast with clouds at Kalama Beach Park in Kihei, a New York based woman was learning her surfing lessons with Maui Waveriders. In 2019, the surf shop would have had about 30 to 40 paying tourists, undergoing training to learn how to jump on a board and feel the power of a wave take them to shore. The New York woman and three people from San Diego were the only clients this year.


“It’s a little better than it was, but we still barely have enough business to keep the doors open,” said Tom Castleton, who owned Maui Waveriders for more than 20 years. “There’s been a trickle here and a trickle there. We’re crossing our fingers we will get a little rush for the holidays.”


As expected by the state officials and business leaders, the launch of Hawaiʻi’s Safe Travel Program on Oct. 15 has slightly increased in tourism. This is due to the fact that the country and world continue to deal with the pandemic that is surging in record numbers at present in terms of daily cases in many areas where temperatures have started dipping and more people are forced to stay indoors.


In the initial 23 days of the Safe Travel Program, in Hawaii around 144,896 trans-Pacific travelers have arrived for an average of 6,300 per day. This is more than triple the per day average of 1,939 trans-Pacific travelers that arrived in the weeks before the program launch (Sept. 1 to Oct. 14), according to data from the Safe Travel Program.


This may seem like a huge rise in numbers until the average number of people who arrived each day by air to Hawai’i in October 2019 was 25,158, according to state tourism statistics.


For the first 23 days of the Safe Travel Program, Maui has had a total of 31,715 trans-Pacific travelers; the Big Island has had 15,953; Kaua‘i has had 14,379; and O‘ahu has had 82,549.

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