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The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Hawaii wants vaccinated tourists to return, starting Nov. 1

Gov. Ige is encouraging visitors to return after a plea to stay away

(iStock/Washington Post illustration)
2 min

In August, as the delta surge overwhelmed Hawaii hospitals, Gov. David Ige (D) had a message for the tourists who were pouring into the state: “Now is not the time to visit the islands.”

On Tuesday, he had a new message: Starting Nov. 1, come on back — especially if you’re vaccinated.

Speaking at the Kona airport, Ige said coronavirus case counts are trending lower and hospitals are seeing fewer patients with covid-19.

“Because of this, it is now safe for fully vaccinated residents and visitors to resume nonessential travel to and within the state of Hawaii,” he said. “Beginning November 1, we want to invite and encourage fully vaccinated visitors and residents to travel for business or leisure, trans-Pacific and inter-island.”

Hawaii told tourists to stay away. Did they listen?

The state’s travel requirements — which allow visitors from the United States and U.S. territories to bypass a 10-day quarantine with proof of vaccination or a test — remain in place.

While Ige had asked nonessential travelers to stay away, the rules did not change to keep them out. It is not clear how many people canceled trips in late August, September or October. Tourism insiders told local media in September that cancellations increased after the August announcement.

After welcoming more than 879,000 visitors by air in July, the state saw more than 722,000 people arrive by air in August, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Data from September and early October is not yet available.

The governor’s recent welcome mat applies specifically to domestic travelers. In a statement, Ige’s office said the state was trying to get information from the federal government about international travel. Hawaii will have “an appropriate plan in place” before Nov. 8, when the United States is lifting international travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors, the statement said.