Coronavirus: Canadians visiting Hawaii in droves despite advice to avoid non-essential travel

FILE - This Oct. 29, 2013 file photo shows people at Lanikai Beach, a popular neighborhood for vacation rentals, in Kailua, Hawaii. A judge has ruled that Hawaii tax authorities may subpoena Airbnb for records of its hosts as part of an investigation into whether operators of vacation rentals have been paying their taxes. Airbnb says it will hand over records of 1,000 Hawaii hosts who received the most revenue from 2016 through 2018. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File). The Associated Press

It seems some Canadians can’t resist the lure of tanning on tropical beaches, even during a global pandemic and advisories to avoid non-essential travel.

An online portal from the State of Hawaii shows that more than 4,000 passengers from Canada visited the tropical chain of islands between Dec. 1, 2020, and Jan. 7, 2021.

The breakdown of the 4,253 travellers were 2,564 from Calgary International Airport (YYC); 1,667 from Vancouver International (YVR); 12 from Edmonton International (YEG); and 10 from Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International (YYZ).

Read more: Alberta government staff member under fire for Hawaii trip during pandemic

If you include Canadian airline data from other airports, such as San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles International (LAX), the total jumps to 4,436 travellers.

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Note: The dashboard includes an option to separate residents from visitors, with Global News only using visitor data.

Regardless, the main destinations in Hawaii were Maui (3,053 travellers) and Honolulu (1,300), with the travellers either flying WestJet (2,980) or Air Canada (1,456).

And where were they staying? Mainly in condos (1,635) and hotels (1,405), but also their home (367), a rental house (375), a timeshare unit (263) or with friends and relatives (240).

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Yet most interestingly is how many flew into Hawaii on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, that being 283, with another 267 expected on Saturday, Jan. 9.

And the following week, 55 are expected on Thursday, Jan. 14, and 112 on Friday, Jan. 15.

As to why they’re in Hawaii, the main, and obvious, reason is pleasure/vacation (3,589). Next were airline crew (352), visiting friends or relatives (311) and connecting flight (56).

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All of this is against a backdrop of advisories to avoid non-essential travel – though it must be noted that air travel is not officially banned.

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Further, while a few thousand Canadians have visited Hawaii the past five weeks, they were a drop in the bucket compared to how many have visited the tropical locale.

Data from the portal shows that from LAX alone, there were 61,127 travellers, plus another 36,818 from Seattle.

Overall, the grand total was 340,144, with most coming from the U.S. — which, as of Friday, had 21.8 million cases of coronavirus.

“At this time, all non-essential travel should be avoided,” says this B.C. government webpage. “This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.”

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The province of B.C. is advising that residents:

  • Do not travel for a vacation
  • Do not travel to visit friends or family outside of your household or core bubble

For federal advice on air travel, click here.

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“Ten thousand people, a few people in every town, every village or city in our province makes these small concessions for themselves,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Thursday.

“That increases all of our risk exponentially.”

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