(KITV) Hawaii welcomes first international travelers allowed to bypass quarantine

(SOURCE: KITV)

After 7 months without global travelers, Hawaii businesses that cater to Japanese tourists are anxiously waiting their return. 

Travelers from Japan can now bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day quarantine if they show a negative COVID-19 test from one of the state’s trusted testing partners.

Businesses that rely on Japanese tourists are gearing up for their return. We won’t see the buses that shuttle large groups of Japanese visitors around Honolulu like the ‘Oli’Oli or Waikiki Trolley anytime soon, but we can expect to see more travelers from Japan return – mostly to do business or see family.

Those flying from Japan will be the first international travelers allowed to avoid quarantine in Hawaii. And tourism officials are banking on it to bring the economy back to life.

“That was music to our ears as it’s such a big important piece of our business,” said Tom Calame, Area General Manager, Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts.

After being closed for 7 months, Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts opened its Moana Surfrider hotel yesterday. It also operates The Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton properties in Waikiki. 

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority or HTA, a million and a half visitors from Japan injected more than two billion dollars into the economy last year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of visitors is down more than 71%.

“As things lighten up, and the testing becomes easier, I think the volume will increase pretty quickly. And that’s what we’ve seen in previous pandemics and economical downturns that the Japan traveler returns fairly quickly once they’re comfortable with all the processes and protocols in place,” Calame said.

Japanese travelers are subject to a 14-day quarantine when they go back – a deterrent for those who don’t live in the Tokyo area.

JTB — the largest travel agency in Japan – is seeing more demand for its services to help visitors comply with restrictions.

“Once they return to Japan, they get off the plane in Tokyo, they’re not able to directly connect to a domestic flight,” said Christopher Li, travel consultant with JTB USA. “They have to book a special hotel, they have to book private transportation and then they have to quarantine 14 days before they continue the trip.”

Another deterrent? The cost of a COVID test. Li says getting one in Japan can cost as much as $600 and may not be covered by health insurance.

“People who are coming at this time are probably going to have to have some disposable income, right if they’re really going to make the plunge,” Li said.

Nalani Jenkins is part of the award winning musical trio Na Leo Pulimehana, which has a large Japanese fanbase. She believes musicians like her are excited to play for them again, after her band had to cancel their concerts.

“Just reinvigorating that relationship with Japan is super important to our connection to the business of music and just to maintaining that relationship with them,” Jenkins said.

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has approved the use of the COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) conducted by a laboratory authorized by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare for the pre-travel test. The following 21 trusted testing partners in Japan have been approved as of October 27, 2020:

NamePrefectureHP
Sapporo Higashi Tokushukai HospitalHokkaidohttps://www.higashi-tokushukai.or.jp/
National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Center HospitalTokyohttp://travelclinic.ncgm.go.jp/index.html
St Luke’s International HospitalTokyohttp://hospital.luke.ac.jp/
Nishi-Shinbashi ClinicTokyohttps://www.tramedic.com/
Kameda Kyobashi ClinicTokyohttp://www.kameda-kyobashi.com/ja/
Tokyo Medical University HospitalTokyohttps://hospinfo.tokyo-med.ac.jp/
Mita Kokusai Building ClinicTokyohttps://www.mkb-clinic.jp/
Loco ClinicTokyohttps://loco-clinic.com/
Karada Internal Medicine ClinicTokyohttps://karada-naika.com/
T Care Clinic HamamatsuchoTokyohttps://www.tcclinic.jp/pc/
Shiba Kokusai ClinicTokyohttp://shibakoku-clinic.com/
CLINIC FOR TamachiTokyohttps://www.clinicfor.life/tamachi/
CLINIC FOR OtemachiTokyohttps://www.clinicfor.life/otemachi/
Kameda Medical CenterChibahttp://www.kameda.com/ja/general/
Shonan Kamakura General HospitalKanagawahttps://www.skgh.jp/
Travel Clinic Shin-YokohamaKanagawahttps://travelclinics.jp/
Fujita Health University HospitalAichihttps://hospital.fujita-hu.ac.jp/
Fujita Health University Bantane HospitalAichihttps://bantane.fujita-hu.ac.jp/
Fujita Health University Okazaki Medical CenterAichihttps://okazaki.fujita-hu.ac.jp/
Nozaki Tokushukai HospitalOsakahttps://nozaki.tokushukai.or.jp/
Yamasaki Family ClinicHyogohttps://yamasaki-family-clinic.com/

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