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Thursday’s daily visitor count hit 504; Hawaii Tourism Authority kicks off search for new leader

The state’s mandatory 14-day passenger quarantine is still in effect through at least July 31, but that didn’t stop Thursday’s daily visitor count from rising to 504.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported today that 1,722 passengers came into the state on Thursday. Some 29% of the arrivals on the 21 flights that arrived in Hawaii were visitors.

The visitor count was the greatest number of visitors to come into the state since June 18 when 575 passengers came.

HTA reported that there also were 500 returning residents and 85 people planning to relocate to Hawaii. There were 196 airline crew members and 124 transit passengers who did not plan to leave the airport. There also were 228 military members and 85 people who were exempt from the quarantine.

As many as 413 of the visitors went to Oahu, with 51 heading to Kona and 40 to Maui.

As many as 373 Oahu visitors revealed the purpose of their trip on the state’s travel declaration form. Some 293 visitors,or 75% of visitors who filled out the form, said they were coming to Hawaii to see friends and family. As many as 11% or 41 of these visitors said they were coming to Hawaii to vacation. Another 27 or 7% said they were here on business and 8% said they were relocating to Hawaii. Visitors were allowed to make more than one choice so the percentages add up to more than 100%.

Normally in June, the state gets 35,000 passengers a day, most of them visitors. In June 2019, 951,628 visitors came to Hawaii and spent more than $1.6 billion.

Visitor arrivals have dropped significantly since March 26 when the state ordered a quarantine for trans-Pacific arrivals. The out-of-state passenger quarantine is expected to remain in place for some time; although Gov. David Ige did announce Wednesday that starting Aug. 1 visitors with an approved negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their trip to Hawaii would be exempted from the quarantine.

On June 16, the state lifted an interisland quarantine, that began on April 1.

The quarantines weren’t very appealing to travelers, who were required to confine them

Pre-pandemic, Hawaii tourism supplied 17% of the state’s GDP and supported more than 216,000 jobs. In 2019, 10.4 million visitor arrivals brought nearly $18 billion in visitor spending and $2 billion in taxes to Hawaii.

Recovering Hawaii tourism to pre-COVID-19 levels is expected to take up to six years.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, is searching in earnest for a new President and CEO.

HTA President and CEO Chris Tatum plans to retire Aug.31. Tatum took the reigns of HTA in December 2018 after a 37-year career with Marriott International.

HTA hired Bishop & Company, a Honolulu-based executive search and staffing firm, to accept and review applications. The company was selected following a request for proposals process.

An HTA hiring committee, consisting of HTA board members and community leaders, will review the finalists and make a recommendation to the board.

The job announcement is posted at www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/who-we-are/careers/.

Interested applicants should submit their resume, cover letter and salary requirements to jobs@bishopco.net by 4:30 p.m. HST on July 15, 2020. For any questions, contact Bishop & Company’s Director of Executive Search, Erinn Tomlinson, at etomlinson@bishopco.net.

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