George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), recently issued a statement regarding Saturday’s false alert about an inbound missile coming to Hawaii that was mistakenly issued by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
“[Saturday] morning’s false alert was regrettable and completely avoidable,” said Szigeti. “There was no reason for the alert to be issued and the public needs to know that it was simply a mistake caused by human error. Our governor and the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency have made strong public assurances that this type of mistake will never happen again, and we should all take that to heart.”
According CNN and several other media outlets, an emergency alert notification sent out on Saturday claiming a "ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii" was a false alarm, according to state leaders and emergency officials, who blamed it on an employee who "pushed the wrong button."
“Already, procedures have been improved to ensure that an error of this magnitude is not repeated,” said Szigeti. “The health and welfare of our residents and visitors is always the State of Hawaii’s top priority and no agency takes that responsibility more seriously than the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.”
In December, Hawaii started testing its nuclear warning siren system that would alert residents to an impending nuclear missile strike. According to CNN, this was the first of such tests in Hawaii since the end of the Cold War, and came after several threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that his country's missiles are extending their range.
“We have been in contact with our tourism stakeholders to inform them of today’s false alert and reassure them that Hawaii’s safety and security is unaffected by today’s unfortunate incident,” said Szigeti. “There is no cause for travelers with trips already booked to Hawaii or considering a vacation in the islands to change their plans. Hawaii continues to be the safest, cleanest and most welcoming travel destination in the world and the alarm created today by the false alert does not change that at all.”
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