tourism

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — As the coronavirus surges to record levels in Nevada, the governor has implored residents to stay home. But Democrat Steve Sisolak has also encouraged out-of-state visitors, the lifeblood of Nevada's limping economy, to come to his state and spend money in Las Vegas.

Sonny Abesamis
Sonny Abesamis

It’s been a month since Hawaiʻi started its pre-travel testing program, slowly expanding the number of visitors in the islands. In some places, that shift has gotten a mixed reaction, even for communities that have come to depend on tourism dollars. Here's how this is playing out in the Maui beach town community of Pāʻia.

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Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program is on track to start this Thursday — opening the way to a gradually rising number of visitors. But if you were planning a trip to Australia anytime soon, you’ll have to make some adjustments.

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The lack of visitors to Hawaii continues to drain local businesses. That includes some major attractions, such as Dole Plantation and Kualoa Ranch. Jobs have been cut, other adjustments have been made — and an uncertain future lies ahead.

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Hawaii’s tourism timetable remains uncertain. Three weeks ago today, Governor David Ige extended the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers until at least October 1st. In Southeast Asia, plans for another tourist hub to start to re-open on that date are likely to be pushed back.

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Hawaiʻi’s current surge in COVID-19 cases could halt the state’s plan of rolling out the welcome mat to tourists next month. And even if tourism resumes, thereʻs no guarantee that visitors will feel safe enough to return or that residents will be assured that tourists are relatively coronavirus free.

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It will be at least another month until Hawaii hosts any out of state visitors who don’t go through a two-week quarantine. In the Asia Pacific, some locations are slowly opening to visitors, but generally not from overseas.

Casey Harlow / HPR

While the entire state of Hawaii has suffered from the shutdown of tourism, one area has been hit the hardest.  

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LIHUE, Hawaii — Businesses on Kauai are offering large discounts to lure back customers after a near complete end to tourist visits to the Hawaiian island since the coronavirus outbreak in the spring.

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As Hawaii moves closer to a gradual re-opening of tourism, other visitor destinations are doing the same. One of the latest to announce plans is the Indonesian island that's the country's most popular with visitors.

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In less than four weeks, Hawaii will be open to travelers who can prove they’ve recently tested negative for the coronavirus. Other tourist spots around the world are considering the timing and other logistics of re-opening. And that includes a beach destination in Thailand that’s popular with international tourists.

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Government officials in Hawaii and many other travel destinations are trying to figure out how to safely encourage tourism. In southeast Asia, the short-term answer is closer to home.

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Despite decades of effort, state and local government in Hawaii have had little success in fostering diversification of the islands' tourism-centric economy. The COVID-19 pandemic recession has once again generated calls for standing up new industries and expanding existing ones that do not include tourism.

This series explores what some of those industries of the future might be and what local leaders can do to bringa about their growth.

Hawaiian Time Machine

Hawaii’s main industry, tourism and hospitality, has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Policymakers have been calling for economic diversification for decades, but single-single industry dominance has been the norm for centuries.

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As businesses reopen on Hawaiʻi Island, unemployed hotel workers are waiting for their chance to get back to work. Several hotels are already taking reservations beginning July 1, and that has some in the industry cautiously optimistic.

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Economists say the state’s economic situation will remain dire without tourism, but residents are fed up with overcrowding by visitors. Experts say now is the time to reorient Hawaii’s visitor industry to a more sustainable path.

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The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly brutal to the tourism-dependent economies of Nevada and Hawaii, lifting the unemployment rate in both states to about one-quarter of the workforce.

Nevada topped the nation with an April unemployment rate of 28.2%, the worst any state has seen since the national jobless rate was estimated at 25% in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression, state officials said Friday.

Associated Press

A tourist from New York was arrested for allegedly violating Hawaii's traveler quarantine after he posted on Instagram photos of himself sunbathing and carrying a surfboard, state officials said.

Rogue Tourists Arrested As Hawaii Tries To Curb Virus Spread

May 7, 2020
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Hawaii authorities are cracking down on rogue tourists who are visiting beaches, riding personal watercraft, shopping and generally flouting strict requirements that they quarantine for 14 days after arriving.

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HONOLULU (AP) -- Flying to a faraway beach might seem like the perfect way to escape a pandemic, but for isolated Pacific islands, controlling the coronavirus means cutting off tourism.

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Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Incident Commander Kenneth Hara said yesterday that Gov. David Ige’s administration is exploring further stemming the flow of visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic by disrupting their ability to make hotel reservations.

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Hawaii’s tourism figures for 2019 have not yet been released, but they have for Japan. It’s a record number, but it also shows some changes in visitor arrivals.

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New Year’s celebrations in Hong Kong will be a bit more subdued than usual this year. A large show of fireworks over the harbor was canceled this week, because police say they are concerned about crowd safety. And if trends continue, there will be many fewer visitors.

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Hawai‘i’s green energy goals are among the most ambitious in the nation, and other states are closely watching our progress. Hawai‘i’s stated goal is 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2045, an ambitious target that requires tackling the problem of airline fuel. Nearly a third of the petroleum consumed in Hawai‘i is for jet fuel. In this edition of Planet808, HPR visits this past week’s Hawai‘i Aviation and Climate Action Summit.

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Fewer Chinese visitors are coming to Hawaii, according to the latest figures from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. That matches a broader trend for the United States.

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Hawaii tourism figures will soon be out for the month of September. So far this year, visitors have been increasing from the United States and dropping from the Asia Pacific. Part of that trend relates to slowing economies overseas. But within Asia, other tourism figures are being hit by political developments.

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Honolulu City Council Member Heidi Tsuneyoshi made the assessment on Tuesday at a hearing covering North Shore issues.

Department of Land and Natural Resources

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii tour companies are beginning to experience negative effects from the protest that has blocked access to the state's highest volcano, a report said.

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Late August is a popular time for vacation in many parts of the world, and a busy period for travelers to Hawaii. That’s not the case in Thailand, but this week the country’s top tourism official scaled back expectations for the rest of the year.

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Hawaiʻi is expected to see its 10 millionth visitor this year. The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority says in the first half of 2019, tourist arrivals were up by 4 percent even while visitor spending fell. Communities statewide are feeling the growing presence of tourists -- at local beaches and on the roads. Now, University of Hawaii researchers are asking how precisely are visitors affecting local neighborhoods – like those in Windward Oahu.

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