The Hawaii government may announce plans for a vaccine passport program by the end of the week, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.
O outlet reports that the program, which would allow vaccinated visitors to bypass the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, could be implemented as early as May.
So far, Governor David Ige has not publicly commented on the plan, but other officials have hinted that the process is ongoing.
For example, Dr. Libby Char, Hawaii’s director of public health, recently said that a vaccine passport program is “a possibility” for the state. Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Josh Green, who helped create Hawaii’s popular Safe Travels program, said he believed vaccine passports could be enacted by May 15, although “there is no official date.”
However, the most promising sign came from CommonPass, the company hired to develop the state’s vaccine passport program. In an email to Civil Beat, a company spokesman said there would be “some news” about the program “coming out [the week of March 28-April 3]. “
Several companies, including IBM, Verifly and the International Air Transportation Association, are developing vaccine passport applications that allow travelers to carry the results of the COVID-19 test and proof of vaccination.
According to Green, Hawaii’s passport program would “facilitate travel” to the islands and potentially enable large weddings, concerts and sporting events, such as the Honolulu Marathon and the Ironman World Championship Triathlon, in the state.
“The marathon and the Ironman are made possible if you have a vaccine passport to help,” said Green.
Hawaii’s Safe Travels program has already increased tourism numbers since it was launched in mid-October. Transpacific and inter-island arrivals are currently averaging around 15,000 per day, which is 50% of the state’s pre-COVID-19 levels.
Green believes that a vaccine passport program can restore tourist arrivals to 75% of pre-pandemic levels.
However, according to travel industry experts, authorities need to act quickly and transparently if the program is to help tourism in 2021.
Hawaii is an expensive destination and many travelers prefer to book their trips to the state months in advance.
“People generally book Hawaii in 60 to 90 days,” said Keith Vieira, a hotel industry consultant based in Honolulu. “So, if you’re going to make a reservation for the summer, you need to know now.”
A clear vaccine passport plan from the Ige administration would help, but “we never know what the governor is going to do and when he is going to do it,” said Vieira.
For now, tourism figures in Hawaii continue to improve. On March 13, spring break travelers helped arrivals to 26,400, a single-day record for the pandemic. Meanwhile, hotel occupancy is expected to exceed 70% during the Easter holiday.