Maui Booster Rule Update
Great news - Maui Mayor Michael Victorino intends to lift his booster requirement for all Maui businesses beginning on Monday, February 7. Additionally, he will also withdraw his request that Gov. Ige require incoming travelers to be boosted to qualify for the Safe Travels exception. This is wonderful as it comes on the heels of our meetings with Lt. Gov. Green and General Hara where we requested that Governor Ige issue guidance rather than a new mandate. We followed these meetings up with memos to each of the county mayors making clear our position and requesting their consideration. Mayor Victorino's decision brings Maui County in line with what we are working toward on a statewide level as we anticipate a decision from Gov. Ige on the matter soon.
This is all happening as the Omicron surge continues to level off and health metrics trend in the right direction. After seeing an all-time daily high in new cases last month, our statewide community clearly buckled down, did the right things, and let the Omicron variant run its course. Although these high case counts had plagued us for several weeks, it does seem that the worst of it is behind us. As I've noted in the past, this does not mean it is time to become careless; we must continue to do all we can to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe and healthy.
O'ahu Chapter Event
The O'ahu Chapter of the Hawai'i Lodging & Tourism Association kickstarted 2022 by taking to the skies. The active committee, now chaired by ‘Alohilani’s General Manager Matt Grauso, propelled into the new year with a board mixer at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. The evening started off with helicopter tours out of their Honolulu base yard and ended with networking at their outdoor lounge where HLTA members enjoyed a sushi bar, cocktails, and fellowship. It was great to connect with so many of our O'ahu Chapter members including past Chapter Chair Simeon Miranda who was in attendance.
A huge shout out to newly-installed HLTA board member and Blue Hawaiian president Quentin Koch for providing an unforgettable and fun-filled experience. Mahalo also to HLTA O'ahu Chapter Chair Matt Grauso for organizing the pau hana and Justin Yoshino of Market Advantage for providing the signature cocktails.
There is a lot in store for the O'ahu Chapter Committee in 2022, and I look forward to seeing where they go from here.
To book your own Blue Hawaiian Excursion visit: www.bluehawaiian.com.
As you may recall, in recent meetings with Governor Ige's administration to discuss the possible addition of a booster requirement to the Safe Travels program, I have reiterated time and again that the tourism industry is doing an outstanding job of getting its people both vaccinated and boosted. In order to underscore this, I have been providing Gov. Ige with the results from our recent survey which focuses on vaccination and booster rates among HLTA member businesses.
The survey is still open, and we can always use more data. Please take a moment to fill it out. If you do, please note that there is an option to keep your business name confidential. If you do not indicate that you'd like to remain anonymous, we will share that info with the Governor.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to call us at any time.
Meeting with Lt. Gov. Green & General Hara
We have been holding a series of meetings with State officials and members of Governor Ige's administration to discuss the possibility of a booster shot requirement to the Safe Travels program. Today, members of the HLTA Board and the Hawai'i Tourism, Business, & Community Coalition met with Lt. Governor Josh Green and Major General Kenneth Hara as well as HTA President & CEO John De Fries and HVCB President John Monahan to express our concerns regarding the booster requirement and reaffirm our commitment to the health of our guests, staff, and the greater community.
It was an extremely productive meeting during which we conveyed our desire to move forward with supporting recommendations to emphasize public health guidance over further mandates. It is clear that we must stay the course and continue our efforts to get our people vaccinated and boosted while maintaining the strictest of health and safety standards at our places of business. Because, at the end of the day, Governor Ige will ultimately be making the final decision on this matter.
Everything is currently trending in our favor on this issue; case counts are going down, hospitalizations are decreasing, and our entire community is beginning to understand that we will have to learn to live with COVID-19 as we can begin to resume our lives. Continuing to rebuild the local tourism economy is the first step to restoring both international travel and large events, two significant sectors of our industry that have not yet begun the recovery process.
You may have seen over the weekend that I sent out a short survey regarding HLTA members' vaccination and booster rates. The initial feedback was outstanding but the more data that we can get, the better we can illustrate to the State that our industry is leading the way in terms of vaccinating our people. If you have not yet filled out the survey, you can find it at this link. It will take just a few moments of your time, and you may opt to keep your business name confidential.
Hawai'i Hotel & Restaurant Show
Speaking of the importance of large, structured events, The Hawai'i Hotel & Restaurant Show is set to return to the Hawai'i Convention Center on March 30 and 31. This will be our second annual show, and we are most looking forward to this signature event.
In today's edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, there is a full-page ad reminding prospective vendors that there is still time to secure a booth for this year's show. If you are considering doing so, please contact either Gerald Shintaku at email@example.com or Jared Higashi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are currently working hard with our partners at the Star-Advertiser and the Hawai'i Restaurant Association to plan and host a knockout trade show, and I hope that we will see you there.
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