(BIVN) – The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority says the false alert of an inbound missile to the Aloha State says travel demand appears unaffected by the frightening mishap on January 13.
HTA president and CEO George Szigeti joined Governor David Ige and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi for a media conference on Saturday, immediately following the false alarm. The emergency alert appeared on cell phones across the state, after an emergency management employee accidentally pushed the wrong button.
It took 38 minutes to retract the mistaken message through the same emergency notification channel. Residents and visitors panicked. Stories of families coping with those terrifying moments are now known around the world.
On Tuesday, Szigeti provided the following statement:
“Thankfully, we have seen little to no impact in travel demand for the Hawaiian Islands in these first few days following the false alert of an inbound missile threat to Hawai‘i that was mistakenly issued by the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency.
“We are monitoring this situation closely and maintaining continuous contact with our tourism marketing partners in 10 global travel markets. Thus far, just a small number of concerns have been reported by travelers or travel trade professionals in these markets about coming to Hawai‘i.
“Additionally, only a handful of inquiries regarding the false alert have been made as of today to the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau’s call center that takes calls and e-mails from people throughout the U.S. mainland interested in travel to Hawai‘i.
“We are also in contact with the visitor industry locally about potential impacts to their businesses. Industry partners are understandably angry about the false alert, but none have reported to HTA an undue number of cancellations since it was issued.
“We already have in place a strategic marketing program to elevate Hawai‘i’s brand and help drive travel demand for the Hawaiian Islands in each of our 10 global markets. Our marketing efforts to promote travel to Hawai‘i will continue unabated. If we see an increase in trip cancellations or a decline in future bookings due to the false alert, we will immediately assess and take the necessary actions to help reverse such a trend from continuing.
“Tourism can be a fragile industry and the confidence of travelers in booking trips can be shaken by an incident like this. Fortunately, in these first few days, the impact on travel to Hawai‘i appears to be minimal, if at all. Hopefully, that will continue to be the case but we won’t know for certain for several more weeks until we can monitor trends in airline and hotel bookings and gauge the sentiments of travelers. We will be doing this knowing how vital the tourism industry is to supporting jobs and the economic well-being of families and communities statewide.
“Our message to travelers continues to be that there is no cause to cancel trips already booked to Hawai‘i or to look elsewhere for a vacation because of this false alert. Hawai‘i is and continues to be a safe, secure and welcoming destination to all visitors from around the world.”