“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.”
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