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Hawaii officials told visitors not to come here on vacation, but some are doing it anyway

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Even with tourism lockdowns in place, arguably the nation’s strictest, some of the visitors that came to Hawaii by air on Wednesday said they were coming for vacation.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported today that 246 visitors came to Hawaii on Wednesday. The count was among the highest since March 26 when the state implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving trans-Pacific passengers, which was extended to interisland flights on April 1.

Some 286 visitors arrived in Hawaii on Monday, the peak day for visitor traffic since March 26. Since Monday counts have drifted slightly lower; however, 246 marks the sixth-highest daily count since the quarantine began.

Nearly 50% of the out-of-state visitors who came to Hawaii by air on Wednesday and filled out an optional form listed visiting family and friends as a reason for their trip. About 16% of these respondents listed government or business as a reason for travel.

Still, some 9% of the visitors who came to Hawaii by air on Wednesday and filled out the optional backside of the agricultural declaration form listed vacation as a reason.

That’s riled some community members and lawmakers, who have said now is not the time to visit Hawaii. Gov. David Ige even took the unprecedented step of asking visitors not to make non-essential trips to Hawaii in March and followed that request with the travel-related quarantines.

Altogether, 881 trans-Pacific passengers arrived Wednesday, including 329 residents. On the 17 flights that came, there also were 146 airline crew members, 82 transit passengers who are catching other flights, and 72 intended new residents for Oahu, five for Lihue, and one for Maui. Some 220 visitors traveled to Oahu and 14 went to Maui and 12 to Lihue.

The state defines visitors as everyone with an out-of-state ID who plans to leave Hawaii after a period of time. Intended residents are those with out-of-state IDs who say they plan to stay here. The intended residents category might include military personnel, college students, people moving to Hawaii to live with their families, and homeless individuals.

The quarantines have kept passenger counts well below last year when most of the 30,000 or so passengers arriving daily were visitors. In April 2019, 856,250 visitors came to Hawaii. In March 2019, 939,064 visitors came to Hawaii.

From the quarantine’s March 26 start through Wednesday, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported only 7,638 visitors came to Hawaii.

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