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Hawaii visitor arrivals sink below 400 for the 1st time this month

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / MAY 18
                                A traveler loads luggage into a car at the Hawaiian Airlines terminal at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / MAY 18

    A traveler loads luggage into a car at the Hawaiian Airlines terminal at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

The number of visitors arriving in Hawaii dipped slightly Friday to below 400 for the first time this month, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority data released today.

On Friday, 375 of the 1,249 arriving passengers in Hawaii were visitors, composing the largest percentage — about 30% — of the day’s passengers. Other passengers included 261 returning residents, 186 military members, 177 crew members, 103 people traveling to other destinations, 83 travelers relocating to Hawaii, and 64 people who received prior state exemption from the quarantine.

Over the past two months, the daily tally of visitors arriving in Hawaii has been creeping up despite a mandatory two-week self-quarantine for arriving passengers. Daily visitor arrivals were below 200 for all of April, then hovered between 200 and 400 in May. It peaked at 667 on June 7.

Gov. David Ige ordered the trans-Pacific quarantine, which began March 26, to shutdown tourism and reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Hawaii. The lockdown has led to a quarter of the state’s workforce out of work, and the state’s low number of cases has prompted calls for the state to reopen tourism faster.

The trans-Pacific quarantine is set to expire July 31, while a mandatory 14-day quarantine for interisland travelers expires Tuesday.

The number of arriving passengers represents a steep decline from the 30,000 passengers, mostly visitors, who were arriving daily in Hawaii at this time last year.

On Friday, most of the passengers on the 20 incoming flights traveled to Oahu, which received 1,143 visitors. Sixty-eight went to Maui, 31 flew to Kauai, and seven were bound for Hawaii island.

Data from a state travel declaration form filled out by Oahu’s 330 arriving visitors shows 75% were traveling to visit family and friends, 8% were coming for vacation, 6% had traveled for business, and 2% were moving to Hawaii. Visitors were allowed to choose more than one option and about 8% did so. Four people didn’t answer the question.

In the past week, state and county officials reported about two dozen people have been arrested and charged with violating quarantine orders, including 21 members of a cult from Los Angeles on the Big Island. Those charged include both visitors and a Hawaii resident.

Violation of the quarantine is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $5,000 fine or one year in prison.

The nonprofit Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii has made flight arrangements through its COVID-19 Flight Assistance Program to help send quarantine-breakers back home. As of Friday, it has assisted more than 80 people with flight arrangements.  

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