Visitor arrivals in Kona–why are they up?

The last three days’ arrival numbers from  Hawaii Tourism Authority are significantly reduced from a year ago, or even months ago before the COVID-19 situation.  But a look at the last three days shows that rather than decreasing each day, the number of “visitors” arriving at the Kona Airport is  up–12 on Sunday,  18 on Monday, and 24 on Tuesday.

Ross Birch, Executive Director of the Hawaii Island Visitor Bureau, who has met with, interviewed,  and categorized each passenger coming into Kona Airport, explained that the number is misleading.

Over the past 6 days, Birch said 87 visitors have arrived into Kona Airport.   Only three are staying in hotels.  Birch said the majority are staying  with friends and family  who are residents here on the island.  He said several  are local residents’ children who now live on the mainland. Their families are here, and they’ve returned for a variety of reasons, including losing their job.  Some are older people staying with friends.

Some are homeowners within the resorts, or owners of other condos or homes,  staying in their own houses that they are no longer renting out.  Some are intended residents, who may have property here in which they’ve not lived but now plan to stay, or had escrows close but had not yet quite moved but the travel concerns, COVID-19 concerns, and impending restrictions caused them to come to Kona sooner.

With airfares at significant lows, that  has helped encourage those folks to make their move sooner than  later.  Birch also stressed that each person who arrives is under quarantine.  Hawaii County Civil Defense is monitoring residents, and the Hawaii Island Visitor Bureau is monitoring visitors via phone calls and physical checks.


Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2020


Mon. Mar. 30, 2020


Sun. Mar. 29, 2020