Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, joined the COVID-19 Care Conversation to talk about how the pandemic has affected the hospitality industry.
Hannemann said the hospitality industry needs a proposed reopening date from the state in order to prepare for welcoming visitors. Although hotels are closed, they continue to cover health benefits for its workers and other costs. In order to properly prepare for reopening, hotels need ample time to plan for workers and invest in new protocols. In the meantime, the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association has created a list of suggested best practices for hoteliers as they deal with COVID-19 related issues.
Currently over 110 hotels have shut down due to the loss of visitors as a result of the pandemic. Hannemann said the hospitality industry is losing millions each day and that he doesn’t think kamaaina travel will be enough for all hotels to reopen after the interisland travel quarantine is lifted on June 15. Until government officials provide a date for domestic and international travel or travel bubbles, hotels will not be able to reopen.
When asked about his stance on testing incoming passengers, he said that in a perfect world he would like to have mandatory testing for all visitors, but implementation would be difficult. He is in support of Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s proposed plan for voluntary random testing of arriving passengers at the airport.
Hannemann said that given Hawaii’s low infection rate and high unemployment rate, he understands there needs to be a balance once domestic and international travel reopens. “I’ve been advocating for responsible tourism, sustainable tourism, tourism that local people can feel good about,” he said. His concern is that if travel does not reopen until the fall, many hoteliers will be forced to shut down. “The longer we delay, the more we are going to pay,” he said.
Watch here and comment through our Facebook page. Join us Friday when Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram will be our guest.
The COVID-19 Care Conversation is live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji will discuss the latest news, resources and community concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.
The COVID-19 Care Conversation, sponsored by Hawai’i Executive Collaborative and Hawaii Pacific Health, airs live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji discuss the latest news, resources and community concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.