Proving that the PTSD from the pandemic is going to offer up likely several decades more of total fear porn, Maui's mayor is pleading to airlines: "Please don't bring so many people to our island."
For a year, Hawaii, which derives much of its revenue from tourism, was shut down to everyone but locals. Now, it seems the once-prominent issue of "over-tourism", often cited by locals as a complaint of living on the island, is back in full force. Except this time, when the tourists showed back up, the island is scurrying to make up a shortage of hospitality workers, U.S. News and World Report said. The islands restaurants are struggling to keep up, the report says.
Mayor Michael Victorino recently said: “We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us.”
Victorino has blamed the airport: “It’s the airlift that really drives all of this. Without airlift, people don’t come.”
Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva responded by saying that while the company is conscious of the regulations and requests, it is visitors that drive the state's economy.
The island still has "some of the nation’s most stringent coronavirus public health restrictions", according to the report. It is also the only state that hasn't fully reopened, mostly due to its remote location and limited hospital capacity. The islanders also have on their mind "the memory of diseases that wiped out 80% of the Native Hawaiian population in the century after Europeans arrived", U.S. News and World Report writes.
The state's governor doesn't plan on lifting all restrictions until 70% of the state is vaccinated. As of right now, 58% of the state was vaccinated.
The state has become a destination, meanwhile, as travel restrictions from other states start to loosen. It's also a great destination for those that are looking to fly overseas, but can't yet due to Covid restrictions.
215,148 visitors came to the island in May compared to just 1,054 during the same month last year, the report notes. That number stood at 251,665 in May of 2019. Travelers still must quarantine upon their arrival.
Jack Starr, who manages Kimo’s in Lahaina, said: “We’re under more pressure than we’ve been in pre-COVID, that’s for damn sure.” Restaurants have still been operating at 50% capacity and will be allowed to fill 75% of their seats later this week. Starr says that the distancing requirements and employee shortage are making life difficult for restaurant owners.
“Are you kidding me? You got to take that down to 3 feet, and we might have something going here,” he told U.S. News.