My Economy

Not the usual crowd for the holidays in Hawaii

Daisy Palacios Dec 24, 2020
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Thomas and Janice Fairbanks, innkeepers at The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono. Credit: Unique Angles
My Economy

Not the usual crowd for the holidays in Hawaii

Daisy Palacios Dec 24, 2020
Heard on:
Thomas and Janice Fairbanks, innkeepers at The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono. Credit: Unique Angles
HTML EMBED:
COPY

My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a big influence on a people’s decision to travel and where they go. In the past, holidays are big business for the hospitality industry. Hotel rates could easily double due to high demand. But not this year.

In Hawaii, the lack of tourism has caused shops and restaurants to close down. And hotels that rely on tourism have struggled. Before the pandemic, as many as 30,000 visitors arrived a day. That dropped to fewer than 500 in March, after strict travel rules were put in place.

Hawaii eased some of those travel restrictions in October, allowing tourists to visit the islands again. However, it’s not back to normal.

In this installment of our series “My Economy,” we spoke with Thomas Fairbanks, owner and innkeeper at The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono in Maui. Fairbanks has been in the hotel business for almost 50 years.

“So, it’s kind of my life,” said Fairbanks.

Fairbanks runs The Old Wailuku Inn with his wife, Janice, whom he met 47 years ago while working in the industry.

“Right now, business is very slow because of the COVID going on,” said Fairbanks.

Before the pandemic, Fairbanks was seeing about 80% occupancy. Now that the state is reopened, his bed-and-breakfast is only about 10% filled — but he is going to take what he can get.

“We always have to feel hopeful,” said Fairbanks. “Otherwise, its not worth getting up and keeping the doors open.”

Let us know how your economy is doing using the form below, and your story may be featured on a future edition of “My Economy.”









COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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