Hawaii & Alaska
via Wikimedia Commons

HI - Tourism Trickles Back to Hawaii, but a Meaningful Rebound Could Be Years Away

Anya Pratskevich had Hawaii’s colorful underwater world of tropical fish, coral reefs and crystal clear water all to herself.

“You guys are so lucky!” her snorkeling instructor at Oahu’s Hanauma Bay said. “There used to be a 100-person line here, but today it’s only six or seven people.”

With fewer visitors nowadays, the San Francisco product marketing manager’s first time snorkeling in Oahu this past December turned into a semi-private tour of the famed crescent-shaped nature preserve.

Pratskevich, along with her husband, rented a condo on the island for a month in December to take advantage of their ability to work remotely and explore the capital of the Hawaiian islands.

On their hikes, they encountered far fewer tourists than they did on other islands during pre-pandemic times.

“I wouldn’t call it a typical Hawaii experience,” she said. “It was a different vibe.”

Despite reopening to tourism in mid-October by allowing visitors to bypass lengthy mandatory quarantines through negative COVID-19 tests, recovery for Hawaii’s tourism industry is moving at a sluggish pace. Stay-at-home orders, post-travel quarantines and surging COVID-19 infections in core markets for the islands, like the Bay Area and Los Angeles, are keeping many visitors away.

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