With the world currently focused on recovering from the effects of COVID-19, many people are dreaming of when travel will once again become a viable reality. Some destinations that experience a high number of visitors throughout the year are taking this opportunity to regroup and put in place plans that are beneficial and safe for the future, one such example being Hawaii.
The Aloha state’s response to the spread of coronavirus is amongst the firmest in the US, and as a result, Hawaii's numbers have remained low in comparison to other destinations. With tourism a major source of economic stability for the state, the conversation has turned to how Hawaii can safely and responsibly welcome tourists back in the future.
"As we begin to develop recovery plans, the industry will need to create ‘world-class’ safety protocols that are supported by research and endorsed by health experts. From the time travellers board their plane to the islands, to when they board their returning flight, both the residents and visitors will need to have confidence the airlines, airports, hotels, transportation, restaurants, activities, and attractions are consistently providing protection from COVID-19. These protocols need to be part of our brand promise,” Kalani Kaanaana, Director of Hawaiian Cultural Affairs for the Hawaii Tourism Authority told Lonely Planet.
Kaanaana also said that the mission of the Hawaii Tourism Authority is to strategically manage tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires and visitor industry needs.
Tourist-heavy destinations often describe large numbers of visitors as both a blessing and a curse, with the sector providing economic security and stability of jobs, but having an impact on things like sustainability, environment and housing. The Hawaii Tourism Authority currently has a plan in place that outlines their vision for a sustainable future, taking into account factors like culture, community and natural resources.
“This plan represents our recommitment to that mission and, significantly, shifts more emphasis to address tourism’s impacts. This shift recognizes the need for tourism to provide both a quality visitor experience and enhanced quality of life for residents, which, taken together, are the necessary ingredients for long-term success.”