Many states, including Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, and many others, have highlighted tourism as a prominent economic driver. With tourism as the fundamental contributor to these regional economies, many state economies have struggled to prosper with tourism revenue being less consistent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health and safety concerns led to substantial job losses in the tourism-related sectors, leaving businesses to shut down or operate at a lower capacity. In addition, travel restrictions and nationwide shutdowns greatly impacted the lifestyles and livelihoods of communities in these states and under similar conditions.
All tourism-driven economies were affected by the pandemic differently, and there was crucial impact variation across multiple regions. For instance, Hawaii was challenged and continues to suffer from the impacts of inadequate international travel. Tourism from Asia has declined drastically because of travel restrictions. This issue has impacted Hawaii’s economic recovery post-pandemic, as their tourism and revenue estimations are significantly lower compared to pre-COVID rates. Hawaii also experienced labor force changes in the form of job loss early in the pandemic, and this obstacle has remained. In fact, tourism-related businesses currently have labor shortages equivalent to rates during the pandemic. There are essential factors for labor shortages in Hawaii, such as increased automation to withhold short-staffed companies. Child care shortages also present obstacles for people rejoining the labor force, and the high costs of living in the state also make it burdensome for lower-wage workers to recover from the pandemic. These cascading impacts have created severe economic implications for the state.
REMI has recently hosted a webinar discussion, “The Economic and Fiscal Effects of Reimagining Tourism,” that evaluates the necessary criteria for reinstating tourism as a regular economic activity in the U.S. compared against our current trajectory. To view the slides and recording of this presentation, click here.