Yesterday, Outrigger Hospitality Group President & CEO Jeff Wagoner and I appeared on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's Spotlight Hawai'i segment to discuss the state of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry. More specifically, it was an opportunity to provide updates on the industry one month after Governor Ige’s request to halt nonessential travel to Hawai'i. As a pair, we brought a unique and diverse look to the local tourism market as our focuses cover not only hotels but also air travel, retail, restaurants, small business, community outreach, and more.
All in all, it was a strong and positive segment that you can watch in its entirety by clicking the link above. A special mahalo to Ryan Tsuji, Yunji De Nies, and the viewers who asked great questions and gave us a platform to discuss myriad issues currently facing the tourism sector.
Hotels for Healthcare Heroes
We have now reached the fourth week of our Hotels for Healthcare Heroes initiative which provides complimentary, two-night staycations to hospital doctors, nurses, and other critical healthcare staff who are working tirelessly to address COVID-19. Through Week 4, the program has now helped 38 hospital groups and has provided much needed respite to a total of 424 individuals/families, allotting 848 room nights in total. The program is set to continue through the end of the month, and I wanted to provide you all with a quick snapshot as to how many heroes and families we've assisted (see graphic above) and share with you a couple of the numerous mahalo notes that we have been sent.
Mr. Hannemann and staff,
These are just two short notes that we've received from the folks who've been selected for the H4HH program and were only made possible through the amazing support of our participating hotel partners. You may recall that earlier iterations of the Hotels for Heroes program relied upon State subsidies to provide room nights. For this latest version, our hotel members have stepped up to the plate and are generously donating these rooms for our healthcare professionals. I also cannot say enough of the wonderful working relationship we have with the Health Care Association of Hawai’i.
I've been extremely gratified to witness the aloha and kōkua required from our industry to make this initiative a success, and I send a very special mahalo to all those who have participated.
Save Hotel Jobs Act
Last week, statistics released by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported that total visitor spending in August was $1.37B. This number is nearly 10% lower than visitor spending in August of 2019, a year during which we experienced robust arrivals and spending. Numerous circumstances factor into these lower spending numbers, but it certainly is indicative of the current state of travel and tourism in our state.
"Hawaii hotels projected to lose more than $1 billion in business travel revenue this year," KHON2, October 5, 2021
Hawai'i, like many other jurisdictions reliant upon tourism, is still suffering the effects of the pandemic and travel restrictions. Despite localized efforts from our State and county officials, it is becoming all the more clear that federal intervention is both needed and welcome.
One example is the Save Hotel Jobs Act that Senator Brian Schatz introduced in April which proposes the following:
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