2,099 People Arrived in Hawaii Yesterday

Yesterday, 2,099 people arrived in Hawaii. During this same time last year approximately 35,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

The state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started on March 26th for all passengers arriving in Hawaii from out of state. This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday and does not include interisland travel.

This data was collected from the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Mandatory Travel Declaration Form.

The following table shows what the Oahu visitors indicated as the purpose of their trip, and they can choose more than one.

Hawaii COVID-19 Task Force Releases Summary Report

The Hawai‘i COVID-19 Public Health Recovery Task Force released this summary report on Public Health during this pandemic.

Click to view report

“As representatives of Hawai‘i’s government, business, healthcare, and non-profit sectors, we understand the immediate health risks caused by COVID-19, as well as the long-term economic impacts it will cause. When we talk about reopening our state, we understand the risks of reopening too quickly, but also the negative effects of waiting too long.

That’s why we’ve all been working together as part of this public-private partnership, with experts in every sector, especially our health system partners, to get it right. The partnership’s recovery plan uses scientific evidence and draws on best practices from around the world.

This will inform us when to phase out some restrictions, what each sector must do to reopen safely, and how to prepare us for any new surge of infection.

This requires a unified strategy, and a solid infrastructure for screening, testing, tracing, and quarantine, as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies required to keep our state safe.

We look forward to the discussion to finalize our plans to bring our economy back while ensuring protection of Hawai‘i’s public health.

We believe that working together under a strong, transparent, and unified strategy we can restore our island home to health and economic well-being.”

Sen. Kouchi Calls for Adoption of Committee on COVID-19 Policies & Procedures for Arriving Visitors

In anticipation of the April 30, 2020 deadline for COVID-19 restrictions for the State of Hawaii, the primary risk for our residents is exposure from tourists and visitors who are not compliant with the 14-day mandatory quarantine.

Recent events have highlighted the problem of visitor quarantine monitoring, tracking and enforcement. With major airlines scheduled to begin passenger service on May 1, 2020, it is essential that stringent policies and procedures be implemented and enforced.

The Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 has been raised several proposed policies and procedures that should be instituted immediately for visitors upon arrival in Hawaii: health screening; identification and verification of accommodations; supervised transportation to their accommodations; and establishing monitoring and enforcement protocols.

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi said, “through hearings with the visitor industry and the Department of Transportation, the Senate Special Committee has identified and highlighted areas of concern that if implemented, will go a long way toward ensuring the health and safety of our residents.”

HTA Spends $25K Sending 19 Visitors Home

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), has given funding of $25,000 to the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai‘i (VASH) to send 19 people back home to their airports of origin during this COVID-19 crisis.

Earlier this week, VASH paid for tickets for Joyce Ann Walker and Ricky Swan from San Diego after they’d been arrested for violating quarantine. Last week, Aarona Browning Lopez was sent back to Los Angeles after posting her outdoor activities on social media. Numerous local residents complained that she was not observing the quarantine requirements, leading to her arrest and prosecution by the Attorney General’s office. After she pled guilty to quarantine violations, special agents from the Attorney General’s office escorted her to her plane. 

The two individuals apprehended late Wednesday, Kimberly Tien and Edwin Htun, were able to book their own flights. They initially were caught violating quarantine and given the opportunity to comply. They then changed hotels and violated again. Their prosecution by the Attorney General’s office is pending, but as these quarantine violations are misdemeanors, they may be resolved in absentia. Special agents from the Attorney General’s office directed their escort to a flight to ensure their departure from the State. 

“We’ve been helping victims of crime or other adversity they may have experienced in Hawai‘i, for the past 23 years,” said Jessica Lani Rich, VASH President and CEO. “During this unprecedented public health crisis, we are supporting the return of individuals who arrive from the mainland, who do not have pre-arranged lodging and may need financial assistance for their return flights.” For visitors who do have money to pay for their flights, VASH is helping with booking. So far during the COVID-19 pandemic, flights have been arranged to at least a half-dozen mainland airports and to Guam.

For individuals arrested for violating the self-quarantine rules, they have the option of arranging payment of fines with the courts in lieu of returning to Hawai‘i for trials.

Hawai‘i State Attorney General Clare Connors commented, “The assistance of VASH during this crisis is invaluable to law enforcement. The ability to return people quickly to their airports of origin during the coronavirus crisis greatly assists law enforcement’s ability to ensure the success of our statewide emergency measures. The fact scarce government funds do not need to be expended for these return trips also helps fulfill the mission of keeping Hawaii safe. All of us in the law enforcement community are deeply grateful for this partnership.”

Ultimately, it’s hoped that anyone thinking of coming to Hawai‘i will delay their plans until the state no longer requires quarantine measures to ensure the safety of the community. For visitors and returning residents, it is imperative they abide by the 14-day, mandatory self-quarantine not only to avoid legal action, but to respect others by not potentially spreading COVID-19.

A Facebook page named Hawai’i Quarantine Kapu Breakers has been set-up to report visitors who may be breaking Hawaii’s quarantine laws, They have been very successful in tracking a few people that feel the need to come to Hawaii and break the state’s quarantine rules.

The purpose of the group is “to bring awareness to issues surrounding tourists not adhering to public safety standards. The point of this group is NOT to harass individuals. Help us find them, and turn them into the proper authorities.”

Using the hashtag #MaiHeleMai (Mai Hele Mai = Don’t Come) social media users are voicing their concerns of having tourists come to Hawaii during this pandemic and reporting violators they see on the Facebook page.

Local musicians and entertainers are making videos for the following facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MAIHELEMAI1/.

Statement by George D. Szigeti, President and CEO, Hawaii Tourism Authority

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement commenting on Hawaii’s visitor statistics results for August 2017.

George D. Szigeti

“Knowing summer is the peak period for leisure travel globally, our State’s tourism industry partners deserve a collective thank you for how they continued to elevate Hawaii as a premier destination experience in August. The solid increases in visitor spending reported for all four major islands was a notable highlight.

“Two key economic figures for the first eight months of 2017 reveal how fortunate our State’s tourism industry has been this year. Through August 2017, visitor spending statewide is at $11.34 billion and the State tax revenue generated by tourism is $1.32 billion.

“By comparison, when Hawaii was starting to emerge from the Great Recession in 2010, the tourism industry realized $11.01 billion in total visitor spending and generated $1.05 billion in State tax revenue for the entire year. With four months to go in 2017, our tourism industry has already surpassed both of the full-year totals from just seven years ago.

“The natural disasters that struck Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands these past few weeks remind us again that we can never take tourism in Hawaii for granted, and that our State’s future well-being could be suddenly altered. Going forward, we must strive for a balance that allows Hawaii’s tourism industry to continue thriving while seeking sustainable solutions that perpetuate culture, preserve natural resources and supports the quality of life we all want.”

Hawaii’s Visitor Statistics Results for First Half of 2017

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement commenting on Hawaii’s visitor statistics results for the first six months of 2017.

“Our State’s economy benefited from the consistently strong travel demand that Hawaii realized in the first half of the year, especially from the mainland U.S., Japan and Canada. Visitor spending statewide grew by 8.7 percent through the first six months, which strengthened Hawaii’s economy as a whole and also generated $976 million in State tax revenue, an increase of $78.3 million.

“These statewide results and Hawaii’s ability to successfully compete with other global destinations is shared by all of our tourism stakeholders and industry professionals who make being in the Hawaiian Islands such a wonderfully enjoyable experience for visitors from around the world.

“As global competition expands and diversifies giving travelers more options, the sharing of the Hawaiian culture, the warmth of our aloha spirit lifestyle and goodwill of our residents distinguishes Hawaii as a place to come enjoy and experience, in many cases, again and again. Mahalo to everyone who contributes to tourism’s vitality and the benefits it brings to communities and families statewide.”

Tourism to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Creates $199,923,400 in Economic Benefits to Local Economy

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,887,580 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2016 spent $159,195,500 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,917 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $199,923,400.

Visitors observe Kīlauea summit lava lake last month from the Jaggar Museum observation deck, open 24 hours a day in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo by Janice Wei

“It’s exciting to see the steady increase in both visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and the consistent economic benefit park visitors provide to our Hawai‘i Island community in the way of jobs, and their spending,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We noticed the increase in visitation from the start of 2016, which marked the 100th anniversary of both the National Park Service and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. When lava from Kīlauea reached the ocean last summer, coupled with the ease of steady viewing of the summit lava lake, visitation continued to climb. We’ve seen consecutive increases in both spending and visitation at Hawai‘i Volcanoes since from 2009,” Orlando said.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the NPS. The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $ 34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5%).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: go.nps.gov/vse.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/Hawaii.

Wanted: Big Island Locals for Grassroots’ “Adopt a Visitor” Program

Big Island resident Tim Sullivan has been quite successful in bridging the gap between many Japanese visitors that come to Hawaii and local community groups and projects that have happened on the Big Island.

A while back, he and I exchanged some dialog about tourism here on the Big Island and a way to possibly get folks to come to the Big Island and see the Big Island in a real way… not just some touristy way.

He brought up the subject again today in his blog posting “Straddling Paradigms: Redistribution of Wealth Through Grassroots’ Capitalism” where he ask the 5 following questions based on Peter Apo’s Pono Prism:

  1. How does the activity make Hawaii a better place?
  2. How does the activity create opportunities for prosperity for all segments of the community?
  3. How does the activity help connect the community’s past to its future?
  4. How does the activity bring dignity to the community and the people who live around it?
  5. How does the activity insure that the people who live in and around it can continue to live there?

Tim has some great answers to these questions that you can view on his blog.

He also surprised me by his apparent willingness to possibly embrace Social-Media and online tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

…Love it or hate it, on-line social media looks like it’s here to stay. Most folks I know seem to be passionately for or against: got some friends who believe Facebook is the Devil (digitally) incarnate, and others who swear by it (my two sons included)…

Well with the recent announcement that the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is in Los Angeles next week promoting Hawaii in the following fashion:

…To activate the social media network in Los Angeles, HVCB will be reaching out to bloggers, podcasters, and emerging media enthusiasts to assist them in developing content about the islands to share with their audiences. On the evening of September 2, HVCB and Marriott Resorts Hawaii will co-host a “tweetup” (gathering of Twitter users) at The Whisper Restaurant and Lounge at The Grove to further promote Hawaii’s uniqueness as a vacation destination to the area’s most active new media users…

I think now is a good time to really look at what we folks locally at a grassroots level can do to help our islands economy out in the long run.

Not only that… I need a job!

So go check out his post and be sure to get all the way down to “The Bottom Line“.

The Roaming Gnome Arrives in Hawaii

I’ll be following the Travelocity Roaming Gnome on the top of my blog while he visits the Hawaii Islands.

If anyone is interested in possibly meeting the Roaming Gnome along the way… I’m gonna try and keep close contact with him while he’s on the Big Island.

The Traveloicty Roaming Gnome Get's Leid (Click for other pictures of him getting "leid")

The Traveloicty Roaming Gnome Get's Leid (Click for other pictures of him getting "leid")

Hawaii Tourism Authority Hopes to Boost Hawaii Tourism With Blogging Campaign

Someone asked me if I was paid to be a contributor on this page of the So Much More Hawaii website.

Twitter Profile Picture

Twitter Profile

I can honestly say that I wasn’t.  You can ask fellow FBI Blogger @LeslieLang if we were paid as she was also featured on the site.

I don’t even know the methodology of choosing the twitter users for this project, and I don’t know why my name is listed as a popular tag on the site.

My profile was on there long before the Big Island Visitors Bureau and the Hilton Waikoloa offered a room to me.  I just saw the KHON@ website and I guess $15,000 was spent on the development of this site.

It seems like a very  small investment on the future returns to this island that the project will have.


The Hawaii Tourism Authority is hoping to give the world something to talk about.

The HTA has embraced a new social media campaign.

Eight internationally known bloggers were brought to Hawaii to experience the Aloha State, then blog about it.

It is one of the most famous beaches in the world…Waikiki.

But there is so much more to Hawaii.

Like a fruit stand along Kauai’s north shore. One of the many things our eight guest bloggers were exposed to during their “tour”.

“They went all over, again it was a part of so much more Hawaii where we’ve uncovered these little niche things to do. So they kind of use that as a road map, in looking for different experiences” says David Uchiyama, Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The guest bloggers had chaperones.

“We pretty much allowed them to venture out there with our local bloggers. You know the local bloggers knew what kind of message we were trying to get out. And so the local bloggers were huge in terms of being a part of this whole effort.”

It’s a first for the authority.

The eight bloggers reach thousands, but it’s the sharing that counts more.

“We know that people talk to their friends and relatives to decide on their trip. Well social networking has become that vehicle that has become another friend.”

Hoping the venture will make sweet music to a new batch of POTENTIAL Hawaii visitors.

“The other thing that was good about this vehicle is that it touches on a younger market for us. We’re trying to introduce Hawaii to the younger set. And this possibly can come into the mix there too.”

And with the tightening economy..and budget.. the latest venture makes fiscal sense according to the H.T.A.

“We spent about $15,000 the majority of it went towards building the site itself, the ‘So much more Hawaii site.” And then money was used for the coordination.”

The new site highlighting all their adventures is – WWW.SOMUCHMOREHAWAII.COM.

17 Year Old Exchange Student Drowns at Hapuna Today

On Sunday (February 8), personnel from the Hawaii Police Department and the Hawaii Fire Department responded to a possible drowning at Hapuna Beach Park reported by county lifeguards.

A 17-year-old boy was found unresponsive in shallow waters off the beach, where lifeguards retrieved the body. Lifeguards immediately started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Fire rescue personnel took the boy to North Hawaii Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:39 a.m.

The victim is a visiting student from Japan here in Hawaii on a student exchange program. He was with fellow students and teachers on a field trip at the beach park when the incident occurred. His name is being withheld pending notification of family members.