Concerns About Travel to the Middle East, Europe Could Bolster Hawaii Tourism

Events half a world away from Hawaii may have spurred a worldwide caution on travel. And while it may have a lot of Hawaii residents jittery about traveling abroad, experts say it could have a benefit in the islands.

The U.S. State Department issued the warning to travelers to navigate foreign lands with caution due to increased tensions around the world, potential terrorist attacks and violence against Americans.

“I would be hesitant to travel anywhere in the Middle East myself, and even parts of Europe, because they just don’t have the same security that we have here in the United States,” said Jerry Agrusa, a professor in the School of Travel Industry Management at the UH Shidler College of Business.

“The world is so upset right now, I think everybody’s on caution anyway,” said Bruce Fisher, of Hawaii Aloha Travel, which books vacations for visitors to Hawaii.

“I don’t think we needed a travel warning to be worried about these kinds of things right now.”

Travel agencies we spoke to say many customers with trips booked to the Holy Land in the coming weeks already canceled, even before the caution was issued. But Hawaii residents usually head to foreign destinations like Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

“The dollar being so strong — 145, 148, 149 yen to the dollar — this is a good time to go to Japan. This is a really, really good time. The dollar goes a long way,” Agrusa said.

And travel experts said fears of flying to the Middle East may work in Hawaii’s favor, as travelers seek destinations they feel are safer.

“People might have already thought about, OK, I’m going to go to Europe, or I’m going to the Middle East. And then they say, well, I’m still going to take my vacation, I’m just going to come to Hawaii,” Agrusa said.

“In a sense, Hawaii is such a safe destination,” said Fisher. “It feels like a foreign country but we’re in the United States, right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We’re very well protected.”

But the concerns on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Israel and the continuing war in Ukraine are still front of mind.

“While we gotta keep a vigil and an eye on this, I don’t think it’s anything for us to worry about — today,” Fisher said.

Source : Hawaii News Now

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