Many did not expect tourism to pick up as quickly as it did.
Businesses are facing the challenge of staffing and balancing the restrictions still in place.
Some visitors have noticed changes to service at restaurants and hotels — industries that are still looking to hire.
“We’ve been in several places that only had half the tables filled with people still waiting in line, so obviously they just don’t have enough staff to keep up with everybody,” said Tim Gentry of Oklahoma.
“Room service is every four days, so we’ve noticed that, but whenever we needed something we’ve been able to communicate that with the front desk and there’s been someone there helping us,” said Jena who is visiting from California.
Tiki’s Bar and Grill says there are longer wait times not only because of staffing but also due to capacity issues.
“We have a six-foot distancing that’s going on. We can’t service the amount of guests that we have coming in,” said Director of Operations and partner of Tiki’s Grill and Bar Michael Miller.
The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii says there are several reasons for the workforce shortage.
“From personal safety, to those who are still leveraging the federal unemployment insurance plus up, child care,” said President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “Also, we had an influx of visitors arrive in Hawaii and I think that outpaced the time that businesses were able to prepare for workers to return to the workplace.”
Businesses are doing what they can and had to get creative to manage the influx of visitors.
“One of the changes that we had to do was, increase the pay for our host team. That was one of the more challenging positions to hire. And so, that’s increased. Some of the cooks pays have increased,” said Miller.
“You have everything from management setting up tables, taking down. Also, doing some of the work that you’d have in place that your entire labor of forces. So it varies from hotel to hotel,” said Mufi Hannemann of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “I will say this, we’d rather be experiencing the problems we feel now, with respect to opening up, as opposed to being shut down and wondering when we’re going to open.”
Many visitors are understanding, for the most part.
“There’s so many wonderful beautiful things you can do in Hawaii. Hawaii speaks for itself, so the fact that you have to wait longer at a restaurant I don’t think would affect my recommendation of visiting Hawaii at all,” said Jena.