Yesterday morning, HLTA partnered with Aloha Harvest to host our latest food drive at 'Ilima Intermediate School to benefit furloughed hospitality workers and their families primarily from the Leeward side of O'ahu. This was another successful event thanks to our tireless partner Aloha Harvest and the hard working volunteers of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A special shout out as well to area Senator Kurt Fevella and his staff for helping us to secure the location and coordinate the logistics for the distribution itself.
As you know, the discussions surrounding the vaccine passport concept have been heating up throughout our community as well as in the halls of government. I have been a strong advocate for the establishment of such a passport both in the media and at the State Legislature.
"Hawaii to consider changes to Safe Travels program after latest CDC guidance," Travel Weekly, April 2, 2021
As I have said from the very beginning, we should be making it easier for healthy, vaccinated travelers to come to our state. As of this morning, more than 900,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Hawai'i residents, signaling that we are well on our way to achieving the much sought after herd immunity. As the number of vaccinated Hawai'i residents continues to rise, we, as a state, should look to make travel as hassle-free as possible not only to bring more travel industry associates back to work but also the thousands of local residents who are furloughed or who are unemployed.
"Travel leaders urge Hawaii governor to update travel restrictions ASAP," KHON2, April 7, 2021
The Hawai'i Tourism Authority's funding is at stake as they are under fire from some members of the Legislature. During a joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Ways & Means and Commerce & Consumer Protection, members discussed House Bill 862, HD2, SD2 which, among other things, would significantly reduce the State tourism agency's annual funding. HTA would be forced to get their funding from the State's General Fund. After being voted upon on the Senate floor, the measure will go back to the House and possibly headed eventually to a Conference committee.
As you can imagine, HLTA is staunchly opposed to this measure and submitted testimony to this effect. Specifically, it is our position that HTA requires ample funding to adequately research local tourism and market our state on the national and international scale. It is critical that HTA receives the funding necessary to help sell what Hawai'i has to offer if we are to continue our economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday, it was announced that Governor Ige had approved Maui's request that will require incoming travelers to submit to a mandatory rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival. Slated to begin in roughly two weeks, the program was requested by Mayor Victorino and will send travelers who refuse to take the test to a mandatory 10-day quarantine.
As part of his request, Mayor Victorino also indicated his support for a vaccine passport program. While he noted that it may take some time to implement it, his public advocacy for the vaccine passport concept is extremely pleasing to our industry, and we are hopeful that Gov. Ige will ultimately approve Mayor Victorino's proposed pilot program.
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