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Visitor arrivals trending up again after 4-day decline

Visitor arrivals began trending back up again Tuesday after falling for four consecutive days; however, they weren’t anywhere near the level attained as Hawaii headed into the popular Fourth of July holiday period.

Hawaii Tourism Authority reported today that 523 of the 2,307 passengers that flew into Hawaii on 26 flights Tuesday were visitors. Other passengers included: 928 returning residents, 137 people that planned to relocate to Hawaii, and 185 military members. There also were 243 airline flight crew members and 186 transit passengers, who did not plan to leave the airport. Some 105 individuals had quarantine exemptions.

Visitor counts have waxed and waned since the start of a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for out-of-state passengers. Tuesday’s count is on the rise again after Monday’s low, which was the lowest daily count since June 30 when 436 passengers flew into Hawaii. Passenger counts kept rising after June 30 until they hit 937 on July 2, the highest daily level since the quarantine’s start. They fell from July 2 to July 5 and then went up and down again.

There’s no clear pattern in recent numbers. However, high days might reflect traffic surrounding the popular summer travel period. Low days could reflect growing concern over increased coronavirus cases in the U.S. mainland, where some of Hawaii’s travel source markets like California are locked down again. In addition to safety concerns, travelers also have been frustrated by mixed-messaging from Hawaii about when tourism will officially reopen.

Gov. David Ige on Monday postponed the launch of a pre-arrivals testing program from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1. He also announced plans to extend the quarantine to Aug. 31 for those that don’t qualify for a testing exemption.

Any visitor arrivals during the quarantine are disconcerting to state and county officials, who have declared that Hawaii is off-limits to non-essential travelers. However, there’s been noticeably lesser travel demand for Hawaii since travelers were told that they were required to confine themselves in a designated location for two weeks after arriving or face up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Normally on any given day in Hawaii in July, some 35,000 passengers arrive, most of them visitors. In July 2019, some 997,872 visitors arrived on planes.

In March, the month that COVID-19 fears accelerated in the U.S. and lockdowns began in Hawaii, 434,856 visitors still came to Hawaii.

By April visitor arrivals had fallen to 4,564. While counts are still dismally low, they’ve rallied some as Hawaii has headed into its traditional peak summer travel period. In May, 9,116 visitors arrived and there were 13,862 in June. In the first 13 days of this month, 8,663 visitors had arrived.

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