Hawaii residents want better management of booming tourism industry

Local News

HONOLULU(KHON2) — The state is looking at ways to manage tourism as it reemerges in Hawaii.

Kalakaua Avenue was packed with people during the afternoon of Saturday, June 12. It was a clear indication that tourism has picked up.

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A survey showed residents want more oversight of the industry as the number of visitors continues to rise. The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) said they are working on a plan to manage the tourism industry responsibly.

Waikiki in June 2020 was deserted. The beach was jam-packed on Saturday, leaving no doubt that tourism is back in full swing.

Daily arrivals for June 2021 are near pre-pandemic levels, with an average of 27,528 travelers arriving each day. Compare that to the 34,461 average daily arrivals in June 2019 and 32,881 in June 2018.

Hawaii residents like Sherry Kahawaii said more needs to be done to manage the hoards of visitors pouring into the state.

“I think we need the tourism on one hand cause that’s what brings our economy to our island but there should be some kind of control on it, not over whelming,” Kahawaii said.

“Waikiki is crazy, it seems like Waikiki times two,” Honolulu resident Isaiah Tavares said. “It’s a balance, you got to find that balance.”

A survey by the University of Hawaii shows many residents are in favor of capping the number of tourists that can come to Hawaii and support charging entry fees for visitors at parks or other “hot spots.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green says fees will likely be implemented for visitors at places like harbors, bays and hiking trails, but other changes may not come until later.

“This year, we will have to rely on tourism,” Green said. “In subsequent years, the goal is going to have overall fewer people that come to stay longer. They probably have a larger spend overall, but a much smaller footprint. And that’s the goal.”

In a statement, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association president & CEO Mufi Hannemann said:
“It would be ill-advised to place limits on tourism just as it’s beginning to rebound. It remains our most consistent economic sector, and we should treat it as such.”

George Kam, chair of the HTA board of directors, said they are trying to find balance between the economical need and the well being of local communities and residents.

“We’re trying to redefine the future of tourism in Hawaii in a sustainable healthy way,” Kam explained. “Because that path we’ve been on the last 10 years, the current trajectory from all indications, is unsustainable.”

The HTA said Oahu’s Destination Management Plan (DMAP) should be done in the next 45 days.

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