HONOLULU – Gov. Ige honored the Office of Enterprise Technology Services’ Safe Travels team with a certificate of recognition. The team was recognized for its invaluable contribution to the Safe Travels Program, which was a multi-layered screening process, that included the completion of the Safe Travels application, arrival temperature checks, and secondary screening for those with symptoms or temperatures of 100.4 degrees or higher. The application created a way for Hawaii to jump-start its tourism industry, while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
When the pandemic first began in March 2020, Hawaii and the rest of the world was in an overwhelming crisis, as COVID paralyzed the world and the state’s tourism-based economy. Visitor arrivals dropped from thirty thousand per day to less than one thousand per day. The Governor directed ETS in June 2020 to develop an online system to allow travelers from anywhere in the world to register and be put under quarantine, with the goal of reviving our economy and protecting the health of our visitors and citizens. “As a team, you stood up the web application in a very impressive 6 weeks,” said Gov. Ige.
The team expected the system to be constantly changing. For example, as soon as conditions permitted, the system would be flexible enough to allow travelers to be released from quarantine based on COVID testing or vaccinations. The goal was to allow travelers to do everything online instead of in-line. In addition, the system had to be 100% paperless so that we had immediate information on all quarantined travelers for use by the health department and law enforcement.
More than 12 million travelers used the digital platform by end of the Safe Travels program, which was March 26, 2022.
Even with the return of high visitor counts, sometimes equaling pre-pandemic visitor numbers, the state has maintained among the lowest COVID case counts per capita and lowest death rates of any state. Our economy recovered years faster than expected. In calendar year 2021, the annual state general fund tax revenue totaled $8.1 billion, a 27.0 percent increase from 2020, and 11.4 percent up from 2019
Businesses reopened with the resident’s verification of vaccinations through the Hawaii SMART Health Card. More than 272-thousand users took advantage of having a digital vaccine card right at their finger-tips.
“This team is truly the unsung heroes. I recognize that this team made many personal sacrifices to ensure the success of the program – including holidays, time off and family time. I cannot thank you enough for all that you accomplished and what you continue to do to support the State of Hawaii,” said Ige.
The Safe Travels Digital Platform was spearheaded by ETS in collaboration with the Department of Transportation, Department of Health, Department of Defense, HI-EMA, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Office of the Attorney General, and the counties.