Never a good idea to see your country mentioned in the same sentence as ballistic missile attack if your biggest GDP contributor is tourism.
Such is the case for the island of Hawaii where an investigation is ongoing into how it was possible that a state employee sent a tweet to all residents and tourists stating that they should quickly duck because a missile was about to hit the island. Even though the error was quickly rectified and the government sent out a message some 40 minutes later stating all was ok, the panic experience was still very strong.
The PGA golf players in town for the Sony Open were among the anxious twitter messages that went out this morning, which were shared to their millions of followers.
Steve Wheatcroft: “So……. this can’t be good. Everyone was freaking out in the hotel.”
JJ Spaun: “in a basement under the hotel. Barely any service. Can you send a confirmed message over radio or tv.”
John Peterson: “under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby, and in-laws. Please Lord, let this bomb threat not be real.”
The mood was confirmed by Mark Rolfing, NBC’s golf analyst who was in Hawaii with a camera crew: “The people were afraid. They have terrified not so much the adults, it was the children.”
“A lot of activity at the club and the Kahala Hotel was disrupted. We were gearing up for a golf tournament and a late morning wedding was getting ready to start. A lot of activity got thrown into this chaotic scene of people not knowing exactly what to do, but having only 15 minutes to do it.”
Hawaii now fears that the false alarm will have serious repercussions and thinks hotels and airlines will be bombarded with cancellations in the following days and weeks.
Mr. Goerge Szigeti, Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO, therefore immediately gave a press conference trying to convince tourists that this will not happen again: “Hawaii is open for business and is still perceived as the safest and welcoming destination in the world.”