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Local Tourism Could Benefit From New Federal COVID Rules for International Travelers

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HONOLULU — New federal rules for international travelers are expected to help Hawaiʻi's crippled tourism industry.

The state's international market has been nearly nonexistent since the pandemic shut down travel last year.

Last week, the White House announced a loosening of rules that had previously prohibited some foreign travelers from coming to the U.S. Now, foreign visitors can come if they can show proof of vaccination and produce a negative COVID-19 test.

U.S. citizens and residents who are not vaccinated can also travel into the U.S., but they must test twice — once before travel and again after arrival.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that the changes could bring back international travel, which is still down 97% compared to before the pandemic.

Currently, Hawaiʻi only requires proof of vaccination or a single pre-flight test for mainland travelers. The state had also allowed travel with the same rules from some countries including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Tahiti and the Philippines.

For Japanese travelers, a major component of Hawaiʻi's tourism industry, some see the new rules as more restrictive.

Dave Erdman, president of a Pacific marketing company, said Japanese media described the new rules as a tightening of restrictions because they add another step by now requiring vaccinations for entry.

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