In wake of governor’s plea for visitors to stay away, travel agents see more cancellations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The CDC is asking unvaccinated Americans to forgo travel during the Labor Day holiday weekend, and says even vaccinated travelers should delay any unnecessary trips.

The alert comes after Gov. David Ige asked visitors to stay away and for residents to avoid non-essential travel amid an ongoing surge in COVID infections.

Now Hawaii travel agents are starting to see cancellations ― and conflict over refunds.

The Coconut Condos on Maui says the governor’s “ambiguous instructions” are making things difficult. Their small business has seen $35,000 in cancellations since his announcement last week, but the mainland travelers who booked there and other local businesses are also frustrated.

Los Angeles residents Irene and Brandon Tosch, seasoned Hawaii travelers who are both vaccinated, wanted to take their little one to Maui later this month but decided to cancel.

“LA was a hotspot just a while ago and it’s tough. Now Hawaii is going through it. I hate to see that happening and I don’t want to make that worse,” said Irene Tosch.

But in the fine print, the Coconut Condos policy says unless there’s a mandated quarantine, there’s no rebooking. That means the Tosches are out more than $2,000.

“We are really stuck waiting to see if there is going to be a lockdown,” said Brandon Tosch.

He says they have no recourse until the government issues an order.

“It’s a tough situation. The money is a big deal,” he said.

“It’s been a few days and we’ve had about eight cancellations so far. That’s a lot for us,” said Hawaii Aloha Travel’s Bruce Fisher.

He says he’s not worried about widespread cancellations for now, but says uncertainty over a lockdown is causing conflict between travelers and businesses.

“This disruption that starts to happen is there is this fine print that you have to read closely. It’s a lot of ‘lawyerese.’ Nobody reads this stuff,” said Fisher.

“It is such a frustration point especially when trying to get money back,” he added.

He won’t book any clients through the end of October unless they purchase a travel protection plan.

“They are a cancel for any reason type of travel protection,” said Fisher.

“It’s not the same as insurance in that sense because insurance does come with a lot of requirements. There has to be a death, some sort of medical thing,” he added.

The Tosches say insurance policies were too pricey and now it’s too late since they booked in May.

“I feel like all we are trying to do is the right thing,” said Brandon Tosch.

Travel experts say Hawaii residents should also inquire about travel insurance or protection since pandemic travel problems are still with us.

Coconut Condos says if people are booking travel now, they are aware of the risks.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.