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Editorial | Off the News

Off the News: Plunging visitor arrivals in 2020

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At this time last year, Hawaii’s tourism industry seemed unbreakable. On the heels of 10.4 million visitor arrivals in 2019, airlines were scrambling to keep pace with demand for Hawaii-bound air seats. Soon thereafter, of course, COVID-19 underscored the industry’s fragility. According to preliminary figures released last week, 2020 saw just 2.7 million visitor arrivals, with losses in each county ranging from about 70% to 80%.

It’s encouraging that despite the jaw-dropping plummet, industry officials foresee the possibility of a meaningful rebound in tourism traffic in the third or fourth quarter of this year. The sooner, the better.

Safety first at restaurants crucial

The crackdown on Doner Shack, the downtown eatery penalized for violating pandemic rules on mask-wearing by employees, is a reminder of why public health regulations are there.

Certainly many businesses have been frustrated by the restrictions, especially those still barred from opening. But masking is so basic to reducing the spread of COVID-19 that it’s reassuring to see rules enforced with stiff fines.

Individuals can argue about this, but in the public spaces, the public needs protection.

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