Questions about Hawaii from afar

AnnaMaria Preston, Ed.D. is a friend of mine from my City Council days (2004-2008). Over the years since, she moved to Florida to take care of her family. From time to time I get messages from her.

In a message from her late last week, she offered up four questions about how things are in Hawaii, for me to answer and in some ways, opine.

After writing up the answers I thought “more than one person should see these questions and the answers”, so I asked her if it was okay for me to republish the questions and answers given. She agreed. So please read below and if your mana`o is different or if you have more insight, by all means, please comment.

1.) How is travel and quarantine on the military bases? I would think they can come and go per their own rules.

So, there are two parts to this. First is that early on, like sometime in April I want to say, the military stopped reporting who in the military were tested or not. It was at this point there was a disconnect between what the military was doing on the island and what locals were doing. Since then, all that has been said is that the military has released its travel ban on members moving between bases, restarting transfers and such. As far as we can tell on the outside, the military is doing what it wants with this and the state is not taking any position on it.

2.) Since restaurants were closed, how do they advertise? Doubt they are, right?

The Hawaii Agricultural Foundation as well as the Food and Wine Festival took it upon themselves to create a portal for information on restaurants that were doing take out and littered everyone’s email box about it. Called “Food-A-Go-Go” it has become the center of all restaurant marketing since this thing started. Check the link and scroll down to see who is supporting this. It’s an interesting effort. Central Pacific Bank did a bit of marketing at the start by encouraging people to go out and provide financial incentives to do so. That lasted about 2 weeks as the $100K CPB donated to the cause got completely tapped. People were going out everywhere to get food from places that were sponsoring this and it was a nice spike, but this is been the extent.

3.) What about the tourist magazines? Where Traveler Hawaii, Oahu This week, etc. do you see them?

Short answer, no, most of those publishing houses were closed down as essential by the government when things were ordered shut down. The effect of this is starting to be felt in the market. Yesterday it was announced that Honolulu Publishing, a large publisher of said tourist pieces, (visitor-focused Hawaii Drive Guides and Spotlight Hawaii) announced that they were shutting all operations down – a victim of the economic downturn of COVID 19. Along with other areas of tourism, they are affected a great deal by this, with continued effects of this on the market yet to be played out.

4.) Roberts Tours, Oli Oli…etc?

As with all of the front-face tourist-based jobs, most of who worked for these companies are on furlough so far.

Most likely they will be called back in but it looks, more and more, like not everyone who was furloughed at the beginning will have a job if and when we ever allow anyone from anywhere to come to Hawaii without them being quarantined and treated as illegal immigrants.

This group of tourist-focused jobs may be the ones that force people to pack up and leave Hawaii if there are no jobs for them to go back to. As you may have read, Carl Bonham of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Office has estimated between 30,000 and 60,000 people leaving Hawaii due to no work. That number is underestimating, in my opinion, what the real number will be as this may only be those directly affected by no employment in the industry with an “average” sized family. As you know families here can be huge, and all are tight-knit so if one goes, they all go.

Thank you again, AnnaMaria, for the questions and the ability to answer them!