Hawaii Prepares To Welcome Visitors With New Slogan, “The Safest Place In The World”

In March Hawaii started asking tourists not to visit the state. And then they got so serious about keeping outsiders away, who might bring a virus, that they started paying for plane tickets so tourists would leave.

The state enforces a two week quarantine of all arriving passengers. That’s why airlines ‘double crew’ their flights to Hawaii and do not get off the plane – since they don’t really ‘enter’ Hawaii they can turn around an leave. One crew rests on the flight to Hawaii, and the other crew rests on the way home.

People whose cell phone batteries die, because their planes didn’t have seat back video or power ports and they used them for entertainment on the flight over, risk arrest because arriving passengers have to provide a phone number on their quarantine form when they land and show that the number works.

Now the State of Hawaii – with fewer than 700 confirmed cases and just 16 deaths – is making its success containing coronavirus part of a new tourism marketing campaign that’s in the works. Hawaii plans to market itself as “the safest place in the world.”

Before rolling this out and welcoming back tourists, the state expects to:

  • Develop a plan to identify potentially infect passengers on arrival
  • Outline protocols for how hotels, restaurants, rental car agencies and attractions can operate

On one hand hand they’re fearful tourists could bring the virus with them. On the other, Hawaii desperately needs tourism and is especially well-situated for a rapid recovery in tourism. Americans will likely have a desire to stay on familiar terrain, with a more familiar health care system, and ongoing travel restrictions in place for many other countries will limit their options. (It’s likely that travel restrictions on visitors to Hawaii from Asia will not be a significant constraint.)

Tourists will return, if only they can feel safe on airlines. Airline requirements that passengers wear masks are as much about marketing as limiting spread of the virus. People don’t want to buy airline tickets if they don’t feel safe. If they see other people wearing masks they feel more protected.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I know this household is heading to Hawaii as soon as it opens and we can get a seat if not Palm Springs. I agree in the beginning people are going to vacation within the 50 states I am one of them. I would suggest a rush to the islands when it opens. I am not so sure openly advertising oneself as the “safest place in the world” is such good idea, generally those types of remarks tend to come back and bite you.

    The question is will all the restaurants etc be open and ready for business when tourist begin to come back, they have to be.

  2. I have tickets to fly on July 14th ….. What do you think the odds of these being place by then?

  3. I admit I’m hoping my upcoming Hawaii vacations do go on, and I am extremely hopeful for my 4th of July trip, as I see it taking a few months once the island opens up before crowds return. Remember that it is not just people feeling comfortable with Hawaii, but people feeling comfortable while traveling to get there. And even then it is more likely to be just west coast visitors due to reduced schedules making connections harder from a large portion of the country. The large international contingent of visitors will be waiting to see if Hawaii can contain the virus while opening up to tourism before considering even allowing exemptions from travel bans from the US to include Hawaii.

  4. I’ve heard several reports that more people are now arriving anyway and just violating the quarantine requirements, laying out on the beach etc. Apparently enforcement is quite lax.

  5. So…if arriving passengers (even citizens from other states) are mandated to self-quarantine for 14 days, does that mean a 2-week stay is required? Doesn’t this make it impossible to schedule a 1-week (or less) Hawaii vacation at the present time? Will airline sell tickets for less than 2 weeks? Or am I misunderstanding the meaning/enforcement of Hawaii’s mandatory 14 day self-quarantine?

  6. I thought Disneywold remains the safest place in the world because it is closed.

  7. Covid death rate .0000117? Get serious.
    Hawaii better wake up and drop the 14 day quarantine pronto or they’ll lose the summer business.
    Airlines won’t resume, hotels/restaurants/stores/attractions won’t re-open until they drop this
    tourist-killing quarantine.
    Their lost income from the 15% hotel/condo tax has to be huge, and every Hawaiian either works in the tourist industry or knows someone who does. They want to get back to work! International travel is dead this year; mainland National Parks are going to be jammed and U.S. resort areas have a choice; keep unneeded restrictions and lose business or get going and attract all those families who want to get out and enjoy our beautiful country.

  8. I’d be the first to jump on a plane to Hawaii (and the resort pictured herein) as soon as Hawaiians feel ready to welcome us back. I feel safe for myself to jump on a plane today, but I don’t want to put any of the Hawaiians at any unnecessary risk. I’m staying at home and for the indefinite future as I don’t see this happening until the fall at the earliest given the current political climate in Hawaii. In the mean time, I hope that the Hawaiians know that we are thinking of them and are in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. Gary, this may be mostly wishful thinking. Hawaii has been especially hit hard economically, and the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. “Haoles Go Home” sure isn’t reflective of the “Aloha spirit”, and that isn’t going to change overnight. See:




  10. @Nick – Enforcement is no longer lax. There are recent reports on the news of people being arrested for violating quarantine. You must now sign a document upon arrival that you understand that violating quarantine will result in either a $5000 fine or one year in jail.

  11. We live in Hanalei town. My neighbor’s boyfriend came to visit. The police and National Guard have shown up twice this week at her house for a head count. He was there, so no problem. Another friend invited a friend to visit. They violated the quarantine and went surfing. Police were waiting for them when they returned home. Hotel workers have taken it upon themselves to “police” the visitors so violators are being caught.

    With 0 active cases on Kauai residents are determined to protect their families.

    Personally I really enjoy sharing the amazing beaches of Kauai. This will pass. Be patient.

  12. Gary, I have been an avid follower of your site for many years. But I am horrified at the tone of this article. I have lived in Hawaii for more than 30 years. The current atmosphere here is that people do not want to tourists coming from the Mainland even though our whole livelihood is dependent upon them.

    Every night on the local news, they tell us the visitor count. Yesterday we saw our visitor count double (from 100 to 200+) because states are opening up. A group of Senators are trying to close every loophole regarding the 14 day quarantine. They are trying to establish quarantine hotels where visitors must stay as well as mandating that visitors be tested for covid 19 three days before they arrive.

    Our hospitals are ill suited to treat a pandemic here. This is especially true on the neighbor islands. We often say that we have third world medicine here & people routinely flew to Honolulu if they were seriously sick. Kona Hospital has only 9 ICU beds and 9 ventilators. There is a Covid cluster outbreak at Maui hospital that has been going on for a month.

    Our low numbers of Covid 19 are because we are respecting the stay at home order which was recently extended until the end of May. When it is safe, Hawaii will reopen with the same warm, welcoming Aloha spirit. Please don’t suggest to people that we are planning that soon. Quite the opposite is true.

  13. There a good amount of background information missing from this article. Many years ago, Hawaii would buy a one-way ticket back to the mainland for indigent folks showing up at the airport in HNL. Progressives have changed that to now providing housing for the homeless in Oahu. Evidently the coronavirus pandemic has presented a new reality to Hawaii.

    Further, the “spirit of Aloha” hasn’t always been in evidence in Hawaii lately. The current welcome has been more like “Haoles go home”, see:

    Economics in Hawaii is a 3-legged stool, with US government, agriculture and tourism all big contributors. Given the near-end of tourism, things now appear to be getting a mite testy in parts of Hawaii:

    When this will all end is anyone’s guess.

  14. I have a question for Darlene… What would she say to a couple who are young and newly married and want to go to Hawaii for their honeymoon? The likelihood they would get sick with Covid and need a ventilator is very low. So why prevent this couple from going to Hawaii when they won’t be a risk to the Hawaiian health care system? Why discourage those who are low risk? If I were 80+, morbidly obese, diabetes, and other underlying conditions I would not go to a place that did not have a medical infrastructure in place to support my potential medical needs. This goes not only for Hawaii but anywhere else! I’m guessing Darlene isn’t a business owner and doesn’t have any employees who are banging on her door to get back to work to make a paycheck to support their family. Should we stop the entire Hawaiian tourism economy because someone near the end of their life may get sick? Part of life is death…

  15. Ever since Hawaii floated the idea of putting ankle bracelets on visitors to enforce house arrest/self-quarantine rules it really turned me off from ever visiting there again.

  16. Darlene +1
    Rocco – if they are carrying the virus without knowing it and get someone sick here. It is not about them, It is about people that live here.

    We have the lowest infection and death rate because we have all the restrictions. If the virus got out of hand here it would be a disaster, like New York.

  17. @puntomillas . Just came back home to miami after 45 days in maui and Honolulu. I own multiple timeshares with starwood ( now vistana and eventually marriott ) To me it was more about using something i know i will have lots of problems renting or even using this year. I took my mom and my wife there because of the virus and all worked very nice for us. I stayed at the westin nanea and than did 4 trades under interval for the remaining weeks at the marriott ko olina [amazing property by the way]. Two weeks ago i though the restrictions would relax for residents or people that were already there , and decided to trade weeks in Kauai. It all went well until 2 days before checkin when the general manager call me to ask me to PLEASE stay in Honolulu. He told us we would need to quarantine for 14 days and that we would be the only ones in the resort. To me this was absurd. We had been there for so long and never bother anyone. We new the rules and went to beach ( OURSELVES) without interfering anyone. I cancelled everything and returned to Miami . The quarantine makes sense only if you are preventing the virus for folks like myself and my family that were already there that long this was absurd. We called interval and they upgraded our weeks to two bedroom elites that we can use for up to 2 years. The quarantine does great for the governor for 2 weeks but once money runs out It will be something unsustainable for them to keep

  18. To darlene and Nicholas.
    You have the lowest infection rate because you are in the middle of the pacific and in some islands there are more chickens than people. The 14 day quarantine its unsustainable and you cant just stay home forever. The Hawaiian economy is linked directly to tourism. You need us travelers to survive and we don’t need you. There are other alternatives that are a lot more friendly and affordable so please do not feel that you are the last coke in the desert. I really hope people there come together with something sustainable for all the parties involved

  19. Nicholas, I live in Hawaii and I’ve been laid off from my job in the travel industry. I can’t pay my rent or feed my family. I’m becoming more desperate. What do you suggest I do?

  20. “The safest place in the world.” Only if by “world” you mean the USA. Otherwise, it’s definitely not.

  21. > People whose cell phone batteries die, because their planes didn’t have seat back video or power ports and they used them for entertainment on the flight over, risk arrest because arriving passengers have to provide a phone number on their quarantine form when they land and show that the number works.

    OMG — did Hawaii remove all outlets at their airports? Why on earth would they do that?

  22. Maybe Hawaii is the safest place in the world for Americans
    But America (mainland ) is not safe for tourists from Asia . Too many cases and deaths .
    Hong Kong has had 1080 case , 4 deaths in a population of 8 million . Achieved by social distancing from 20th Jan 2020 and wearing masks . They took action when Trump was not doing much except talk BS.
    Asians visiting USA for both tourism and education (universities ) will fall rapidly , no one trusts Trump and the US government now . And they do not like the ”blame Chinese attitude ” . Just too many cases of people being racially abused in public , even people who are not Chinese , but look Asian ( like Koreans, Filipinos, etc ) This Covid 19 has shown America for what it really is , racialist and unorganised

  23. Being married to a Hawaiian, I can assure you they will not put up with shenanigans of any mainlanders. They will welcome people back but you will have to follow their rules or leave. Face masks will be mandatory, rules will be enforced, and the well being of citizens will be top priority. Hawaiians have a very Asian/Asian Pacific culture. It’s not about “I” it’s about “we” – you look after one of your own. These protests here in the mainland are considered barbaric to most Hawaiians. You look out for your neighbors and elders. End of discussion. The relationship between Hawai’i and the mainland has always been a bit awkward. But this could be deadly and while those who support independence will always be a fringe group, all Hawaiians will agree that they won’t put up with the mainlanders who won’t follow the rules and laws.

  24. @Desperate- lots of jobs in essential services right now- delivery, grocery, logistics, healthcare. Government services as well- get a job as a contact tracer.

  25. I have a two week vacation for our 10 year anniversary in Maui in August; with payment due by June 29th. We sure hope this 2-week quarantine that expires on May 31st does not get extended. I’m sure they want my $15,000. If not I can spend it elsewhere ^_^

  26. Do not come to Hawaii. We do not need you mainlanders. Let us take care of our own right now. The problem is the majority are selfish and only care about themselves. I’m disappointed with the higher tourist numbers lately. But just as happy when I see one dumb mainlanders getting arrested and sent home. They come in thinking they can do whatever they want. Just stay away

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