Updated: Feb 16
After a year of COVID restrictions, there is a light on the end of the tunnel for Hawaii tourism. The island is getting busy, and life is coming back to normal. With the gradual loosening of travel regulations, more people are coming to the island each month, but no one in the state predicted visitors would return with such a flurry so soon.
The big surge happened in March. According to Big Island Now, "the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism registered more than 18,000 arrivals to the Hawaiian Islands on 15 separate days through the first four weeks of March. That tally includes returning residents, airline workers, and new arrivals planning to live in the state.
Still, arrival totals approached or surpassed 50% of the daily tallies registered in March 2019, which was one year prior to the pandemic, nearly every single day over the last month. March 2021 totals also doubled, or nearly doubled, arrival rates on most days in the prior month of February 2021."
You can definitely feel the vibe. There are a lot more people on the streets, in restaurants, and in stores. Hotels are getting booked and once empty parks and beaches are lively again.
"Local businesses projected early summer would be the time when tourism began to swell, while Hawai´i Governor David Ige projected a “return to normal” by mid-to-late-summer with the arrival of a vaccine passport program not scheduled for deployment until May, at the earliest." No one has expected tourism to come back so fast, and many were not prepared for it.
One of the local industries that fell the victim to high demand was car rentals. Having to reduce their inventories during the dry pandemic months, they are experiencing huge shortages and are booked months ahead.
"Multiple rental companies stationed at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole, including Enterprise and Budget, say they’re sold out through April. Local rental service, Joe’s Big Island Jeep Rental, will not have any inventory to offer until May. Most of that is likely to be reserved within a matter of days, and the same goes for June. The popular vehicle rental app, TURO, had zero listings available anywhere on the Big Island Monday, March 29. The Thursday prior, the app listed two cars for rent — at rates between $349 and $399 per day." (To learn more about Big Island's "Carmagedon" read this article). So, if you plan a trip to Big Island and rent a car, make arrangements ahead of time.
One of the reasons for this sudden influx of visitors is spring break, and we don't know how long it is going to last. But on a deeper level, the Big Island is one of the best places to live in the country, and more people are discovering that and moving here, whether part-time or permanently. And there are plenty of good reasons for that.
Hawaii island is one of the safest places to be right now. Due to its low COVID case counts, low population, and peaceful society more and more people are finding refuge in the safe heavens of Big Island. What else can you dream of? Perfect tropical climate year-round, beautiful ocean, breathtaking nature, and relaxed lifestyle are as good as it gets. But the magic of Hawaii is much more than beautiful sunsets. The island brings with itself the element of spirituality that makes people friendly and open. After visiting the island for the first time, many feel drawn to it and compelled to come back or even move here.
This is one of the reasons the real estate market is super-hot right now. With housing inventory getting tighter, it is not easy to find the perfect property, but some good options are still available. If you are considering visiting Big Island or moving here, now is a good time to come. Even with the tourism picking up, the island doesn't feel overcrowded. You can visit local parks, the volcano, famous beaches with not much waiting or traffic and still enjoy being in spacious places with lots of ability to distance.
If you are searching for your own place in paradise, contact me and I will assist you in your journey.
For the latest COVID-19 travel-related information, click here.
Pictures are courtesy of Pixabay, BigIslandNow, Inoptia