Are you working remotely and longing for a temporary change of scenery? How’s one month in Hawaii sound? As a way to boost the economy, a program called "Movers and Shakas," is offering remote workers free round trip tickets to Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, to live and work in the state for a 30-day stint.
The program launched through a partnership with the Hawaii state government, business leaders, alumni associations at schools and colleges, and founding organizations including the Central Pacific Bank Foundation, Hawaii Executive Collaborative, Island Holdings, Inkinen and FCH Enterprises as a way to provide some relief to Hawaii’s tourism industry, a main economic driver for the state, which has been impacted due to the pandemic, according to a news release.
However, before you pack your bags, there are a few requirements that need to be met. Participants must be 18 years or older to apply. Those who are chosen must volunteer their time a few hours a week to a nonprofit, where they can use their knowledge and skills. And, those who are selected must relocate to Hawaii within one month of being chosen.
Jason Higa, the group's founder, told CNN that “Movers and Shakas” is a “small step towards economic recovery and diversifying their economy.”
Higa said the pandemic has normalized remote work, for a while. “We believe this situation presents an opportunity for local residents to return home, and for out of state professionals to experience Hawaii, not as tourists, but as contributing members of our community,” Higa told CNN.
Currently, the program is accepting anyone working remotely from across the country, including former Hawaii residents who want to return.
Richard Matsui, the founder of Movers and Shakers, returned to his native Hawaii from San Francisco.
“I always dreamed of moving back home," Matsui, 35, told CNN. "The pandemic normalized remote work, and I took the opportunity to relocate home."
Matsui told the news outlet that the real value of the initiative is to bring talented and knowledgeable workers who will help build their communities through volunteer work and to make the economy more resilient.
"While the pandemic is an enormous crisis, it also presents Hawaii with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to diversify our economy,” Matsui said.
Currently, Hawaii has the lowest rate per capita of COVID-19 infections in the country, according to the program’s news release, also making it one of the safest places to live and work.
So far, Hawaii has reported over 18,000 coronavirus cases, and more than 200 people have died, CNN reported.