Maui Set To Impose New Hotel Tax Due To Influx Of Tourists 

The Hawaiian island of Maui has announced that they will now be collecting a hotel tax from all tourists staying there in order to help them deal with the influx of tourists while recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The new 3% tax will be collected from all individuals staying at a hotel or short-term rental on the island. According to the Associated Press, this tax comes after lawmakers in the state passed a bill that would change how Hawaii allocated tax revenue to the different counties. 

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Before this new tax was implemented, the state would collect a 10% hotel tax to be distributed to each county. According to Hawaii News Now, the bill is also cutting Hawaii Tourism Authority’s budget by 24%. Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee told the media outlet that this change would help the tourism industry in Hawaii thrive overall as the world begins to reopen more. 

“This tax will help tremendously. Instead of $23 million, we’ll probably receive in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 million,” she explained. 

The push for Hawaii’s tourism sector to find new ways to gain more revenue comes as a major increase in travel, and travel plans, have emerged, especially in Maui. Maui’s Mayor Michael Victorino has reached out to certain airlines to start bringing fewer tourists to the island, as they are starting to become overwhelmed with wealthy travelers who want to escape. 

“We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us,” Victorino said to the AP.

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In May 2021, more than 630,000 visitors flew to Maui. In May 2019, before the pandemic, Maui received about 847,000 tourists, so the state is currently witnessing almost pre-pandemic levels of travel while the US is still very much battling this virus and its variants. 

Maui is also one of the easiest places to travel to currently, especially for American citizens. Last week the state removed their requirement for travelers to be tested for Covid-19 before coming to the island; this stipulation only exists for fully vaccinated domestic travelers. 

Those who are not vaccinated still have to provide proof of a negative test from a “trusted medical partner site” in order to skip the mandatory quarantine period once they get to the island itself. 

Hawaii has also recently expanded their partnership with the company Clear’s Health Pass, which offers vaccinated individuals with an easy and digital way of proving their vaccination status to make travel easy. 

Governor David Ige also announced that the state plans to lift all of its Covid-19 restrictions once Hawaii reaches a 70% vaccination rate. Currently 65% of all residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 58% are fully vaccinated. 

Google To Put Voice Assistance Technology In Hotels To Promote Contact-Free Luxury

After six months in quarantine, many are trying to figure out new ways to itch their travel bugs in a safe and easy manner. Many hotel chains across the country have implemented dozens of new health and safety procedures to ensure all guests and employees feel comfortable when staying at their establishments. 

Google has recently announced that they want to take the hotel experience to the next level while we continue to battle this pandemic. The goal is simple; allow travelers to still feel a sense of luxury and relaxation while vacationing during a time that requires us to stay indoors and isolated at all times. To accomplish this, Google has teamed up with some hotels in both the United States and United Kingdom to launch their new hospitality solution technology, which will allow hotel-goers to enjoy a more hands-free experience when relaxing in their rooms. 

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The hotels that have decided to partner with Google will provide a Google Nest Hub in each room. The Google Nest Hub’s are a part of Google’s line of smart home technology, meant to make life all around easier and hands-free. 

The hub’s in the room can be easily used to request basic hotel services, confirm local restaurant and shop hours, make reservations at said restaurants, get weather reports, information on local tourist attractions/things to do, or even control the lights and heating in the rooms. All of that can be done with a simple “hey google” voice command. 

Guests can also use the hub to make their hotel stay as specific as they wish. This means they can request the hub to schedule a wake up call, ask for extra towels, more water or ice, etc. Some hotels will also set up Google Assistant within the room so that guests can check out using the hub, avoiding even more person-to-person interaction.

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The hub is also meant to be used as the main entertainment center for the room. Guests can easily access and control the YouTube app to find breaking news, music, videos, etc., they can even connect their phones via Bluetooth to play their own music. 

Google has ensured that all hubs don’t have any cameras, and customer identities will remain fully protected with the new technology, the same way it would be protected in a traditional hotel experience. The hub requires no sort of account sign in to work, and the microphone can be physically turned off for customers who don’t want to use the assistant at all. Google also released an official statement claiming that no audio would ever be recorded or stored from the hubs. 

As of right now, only a handful of hotels in both the US and UK have begun implementing this technology, but Google claims that they will be announcing more partnerships in the future. Current participating hotels include the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz., Dr. Wilkinson’s Resort in Calistoga, Calif., Gale and Shelborne South Beach in Miami, Fla., Hotel  Zena and Viceroy D.C. in Washington, D.C., Village Hotels in the U.K., and Gansevoort Meatpacking and Synergy Chelsea in New York City.

Blockchain Tech

New Technology Will Alter The Way We Stay In Hotels Post-Pandemic

The hotel and travel industry has been scrambling within the past few months of the pandemic to not only adjust their schedules to accommodate the many cancellations and rescheduling of individuals who can no longer travel, but also to figure out ways in which new technology can be implemented into hotels to ensure all guests/staff remain healthy and safe. 

Many major hotel chain’s are offering a combination of new health and safety procedures and technologies that are specifically designed to make staying at a hotel during the pandemic easy and safe. These new technologies work to take the extra step beyond just wearing a mask and sanitizing to really make guests and employees feel secure. 

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Compliance Monitoring is a new policy many hotels are undertaking to ensure that every guest and staff member is wearing their mask at all times when in common spaces. Tech company Cyberlink recently released a new product known as FaceMe. FaceMe is a facial-recognition engine that has the ability to detect if an individual is wearing their mask or not, and can identify an individual’s face through their mask as well; something many iPhone users have complained about. 

The purpose of this technology in hotels specifically is to notify management when someone enters the building without a facial covering. The technology can also be used to take an individual’s temperature from a distance.

Global tech provider, Nevotek is giving their new “Grace” platform to hotels as a way to easily get hotel staff and guests to communicate without any in-person interactions. “Grace” essentially allows guests to message hotel staff through an app of their choice (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat), making it so guests don’t need to download an extra app just for their visit. This way, guests can simply text the front desk “need more towels,” and a fresh set will be delivered to their room’s door without any person-to-person interaction. 

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Radar Labs is another tech giant that specializes in building geofences and geo-based apps. Essentially they provide location detection services for a multitude of companies. For hotels specifically, geofences can be used to notify management when a guest is about to arrive for check-in, which can then be completed remotely. This technology can also be used when guests want to check-out, so instead of going to the front desk they can view their bill on their phone and pay it easily before leaving. 

Hotels have already begun implementing more sanitation stations, technologies, and procedures to make guests feel comfortable, as well as staff. Many chains have taken to hiring “hygiene managers” that hold an executive position specifically for enforcing proper health and safety measures in every hotel. 

Beyond the managers, many hotels are also implementing advanced air purifiers and filters in their common spaces that literally clean the air. HEPA filters have been some of the most popular, as they are capable of filtering out 99.9% of all airborne viruses and bacteria. Electrostatic disinfectant sprayers have been used in combination with these filters to make common spaces as sterile as possible throughout the day. 

Finally, many hotels in Asia specifically have begun using robotic maids to minimize the amount of time hotel staff spends going to occupied rooms. The KT Corporation specifically released their second generation of what they call the GiGA Genie hotel robot. This robot can deliver water, fresh towels, and many other amenities directly to guests doors. The artificial intelligence software within the Genie also equips it with communication technology and advanced information allowing it to easily move throughout the hotel and even speak to guests about certain offers and accommodations. 

Summer Vacation

Planning A Summer Vacation During A Pandemic

Now that summer is officially here, many are trying to think of alternative ways to scratch their vacation itch without breaking Covid-19 health and safety restrictions. Luckily, many home rental and hotel services are still offering ways for you and your loved ones to travel this summer with updated guest policies to ensure everyone has a healthy and fun time. 

Home rental services specifically will be seeing a major influx in business within the next few months, and they may receive even more business then they’re used to, according to Sean Breuner who’s the CEO of AvantStay, a short-term home rental company. 

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“Usually we average about three to four days per stay and now that has increased dramatically. You might see four couples get together to work from home in Scottsdale for a month at a time… people looking for control versus going to a hotel. Generally, people are booking in two windows: they’re either looking to travel immediately or scoping out a trip for late summer,” he explained. 

Home-rentals also offer a change in quarantine scenery. As stated by Breuner, many adults who have been working from home for the past few months are using rental services to change up the spaces they live out their lockdown days in. 

Major hotel chains across America have also begun implementing new health and safety procedures to ensure every guest feels comfortable staying there. For example, Marriott International has adopted new hygiene technology that includes electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant for all rooms. Hyatt Hotels have hired “Hygiene Managers” for all of their locations to oversee proper disinfection protocols; Hilton Hotels are doing something similar and also employing a “CleanStay Room Seal” so that guests are guaranteed their rooms haven’t been touched since its cleaning. 

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There’s expected to be a major influx in road trips this year, as that genuinely is one of the safest ways to vacation in terms of Covid-19; especially if you’re driving an RV or trailer. 

“People are really embracing the road trip. We’re seeing a lot fewer people book island trips and flights… people can still get away to the lakes, the river, the countryside, and have that bigger space,” Jeff Hurst, the president of Vrbo, a summer rental company, said.

John Staff is the CEO of Getaway, which offers tiny home rentals that are located within driving distance of major cities in America, and in a recent interview he claimed that his company saw a 400% increase in bookings for this summer once president Trump officially banned travel to Europe. 

Obviously, the main concern with all of these options is cleanliness, health, and safety. Major home rental services like Vrbo, Getaway, Airbnb, etc. have all made their new disinfecting/cleaning procedures public online to ensure all guests know they’re walking into a covid-free space. If you’re planning to go the home rental route, call the owner regardless and ask them to take you through what their process is, remember, this is their property, so they likely are going to want the space to be just as clean as you do. 

You can do the same with any hotel you’re planning on staying at, or even campsite grounds if you’re deciding to do that as well. Regardless, make sure you’re prioritizing your health, as that’s what we all should be doing in general right now.

Google Maps

Google Travel Poses Major Threat to Online Travel Agencies

When you think of the top travel sites, you likely imagine companies like Expedia, Orbitz, and, which have long been used by travellers looking to book airline tickets, make hotel reservations, rent cars, and more. However, in recent months Google has entered the travel industry in a much more significant way with the launch of Google Travel, a service that leverages the company’s vast network of information to compete directly with Expedia and the like. Google, however, has a distinct advantage over other travel companies by virtue of the fact that it provides by far the most popular search engine in the world, accounting for 81.5% of all search engine traffic on the Internet. As people generally use search engines to find information to help them plan their travels, this fact gives Google a distinct advantage over rival companies, posing a potentially-existential threat to their businesses.

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Google Flights, is a service that allows people to search various airlines to facilitate the purchase of tickets through third-party suppliers, launched eight years ago in September 2011. This year, however, the company expanded their ambition in the travel industry by combining Google Flights with services allowing users to search for hotels and vacation packages with the May launch of Google Travels. What’s more, Google Travels also offers travel guides for locations around the world, presenting users with suggestions on things to do, recommended day plans, travel videos, and more. While rival services include similar functionality, Google Travel’s attractive, minimalist aesthetic is more likely to engage users, particularly those who are already entrenched in the Google ecosystem. As Google Travels integrates with other services like Google Maps and Android, it can offer customers a more streamlined, straightforward, and comprehensive approach to organizing information relating to travel.

Google’s efforts to rise to the top of the travel industry have directly resulted in shrinking traffic from Google to websites like Expedia and TripAdvisor, causing them to grow at a worryingly slow pace.

Crucially, however, Google also prioritizes search results relating to its own business over competitors. As such, when you search for the word “flight,” for example, the first result links to Google Flights, with competing services found lower on the list of results. As people most often click one of the top three links that appear in the results of a Google search, customers are naturally drawn to choosing Google’s services over their competitors, even in cases where competitors might offer a better option. Understandably, this has led to complaints from competing services, who blame the search giant for revenue slowdowns, as top travel companies struggle to figure out how to maintain dominance when faced with such a powerful competitor. Google’s entry into the business of travel coordination, and its practice of promoting its own services through its massive search engine, stings particularly because travel companies pay Google billions of dollars in advertising money to prioritize links to their websites in search results.

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Google’s efforts to rise to the top of the travel industry have directly resulted in shrinking traffic from Google to websites like Expedia and TripAdvisor, causing them to grow at a worryingly slow pace. According to Stephen McBride, writing for Forbes, Google earned around $18 billion from online travel agents that paid for advertising on their search engine last year, whereas the largest online travel agent,, only earned $14.5 billion. To make matters worse, Google is charging these companies an increasing amount of money to appear near the top of search results as time goes on, further compounding their financial difficulties. However, as these companies’ advertising purchases are tremendously profitable for the search engine giant, Google is unlikely to deliberately drive them out of business, even though they could potentially do so with ease. As such, the company has developed a strange type of relationship with online travel agencies; though Google directly competes with them by offering the same services, their existence also helps them make money, meaning the massively powerful Google is incentivized to keep rival travel agencies in business while simultaneously cutting deeply into their profits. As a massively profitable technology company, Google is evidently finding it increasingly difficult to live up to their own standard of “don’t be evil,” which was once incorporated into its corporate code of conduct before being removed.


Want to Attend the 2020 Olympic Games? Here’s What You Should Know

Next year, the Olympics are scheduled to be held in Tokyo, the first time the Olympics will be held in this city since 1964. Like all Olympic events, the 2020 Olympics are expected to be a massive tourism and economic opportunity for its host city, and over 11,000 athletes from 206 nations plan on participating. Millions of people from around the world have entered a lottery, hoping for the opportunity to buy tickets to the two-week event. The massive event, preparations for which are already well underway, is funded by a 400 billion Japanese yen fund set aside by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is paying for the construction of massive venues and infrastructure, including a temporary “Olympic Village” where athletes live during the duration of the event.

The opening ceremony for the 2020 Olympics will take place in Tokyo, on July 24th, and preliminary soccer and softball matches begin July 22nd. A record 339 events in 50 sports will be held throughout the 2020 Olympics, with the sports of karate, climbing, surfing, and skateboarding appearing for the first time. Additionally, baseball and softball will make their debut in the 2020 Olympics, which is appropriate considering the massive popularity of these sports in Japan. Though most of the events will be held in Tokyo, a number of events will also be held in surrounding areas, including the Sapporo Dome on the island of Hokkaido and the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.

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A total of 7.8 million tickets will be sold, and even this number is insufficient to meet demand, as tickets have been sold via a lottery system, with most tickets being reserved for local fans. As such, it is difficult, yet still possible, to purchase tickets to the 2020 Olympics. Though all available tickets have already been sold, additional rounds of ticketing will occur throughout next year. Additionally, the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee will allow customers to resell their tickets, with the maximum ticket price being the original face value, to prevent scalping. If you miss out on getting tickets to the Olympics, there are other ways to enjoy the Olympics in and around Tokyo by attending so-called “Live Site” venues, where televised sports broadcasts will be featured and other programs will take place. 

Overall, travelling to Tokyo for the Olympics is sure to be an expensive, complex, and crowded operation, ideal for die-hard fans of Olympic sports but perhaps not for casual sports fans.

Owing to its massive size, security at the event will be strict. Drones are banned from flying over the events, and police have implemented facial recognition technology and other advanced surveillance technologies to combat the threat of terrorism and violence. Tokyo, fortunately, is considered one of the safest cities in the world, and has been relatively unaffected by violent extremism; however, the tremendous scale of the undertaking has raised concerns about cyberattacks and other threats to safety, including the possibility of a natural disaster, resulting in the implementation of security measures on an unprecedented scale. 

Additionally, the Olympic Committee has instituted a controversial policy of disallowing audio and video recordings made at the event from being posted to social media, and organizers are expected to rapidly issue takedown notices on social media networks for any violations. Photos, however, are allowed to be posted, but the intellectual property rights of photos taken at the event will be transferred to the Committee.

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Tokyo’s public transit system is sprawling and complex, a necessity to handle the city’s densely-packed population. This system will be put to the test during the Olympics, as the number of expected visitors far exceeds the system’s ordinary capacity. As such, Tokyo is making a tremendous investment in its public transportation infrastructure to handle the influx of tourists, but the system is complex enough that visitors are advised to perform extensive research about how best to navigate the city, using online tools like Hyperdia

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for tourists, however, is affordable lodging. Prices for hotel rooms have skyrocketed, and the tiny “capsule” hotel rooms for which the city is well-known have quintupled in price during the Olympic season. Making matters worse, Japanese hotel rooms are small compared to those throughout most of the world, and under Japanese law, hotels charge per-person, not per-room. Other options include AirBnBs, which are gaining popularity in the country but nonetheless remain expensive, and cruise ships, which are set to function as “floating hotels” during the Olympic games.

Overall, travelling to Tokyo for the Olympics is sure to be an expensive, complex, and crowded operation, ideal for die-hard fans of Olympic sports but perhaps not for casual sports fans. For these people, attending local events where the Olympic games are rebroadcast and other activities are held can be a cheaper and less stressful way to enjoy this upcoming historic event.