HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tourism is the biggest industry here in Hawaii. However, a new bill created by Senator Laura Thielen could put limits to it.
This comes as the Hawaii Tourism Authority released its 2019 numbers. In 2019, Hawaii reached over 10 million visitors, up 3 percent from 2018.
With the number of visitors climbing each year, Sen. Thielen, who represents Kailua, Lanikai and Waimanalo, said new parameters have to be set.
“The idea really is, let’s give the residents a break,” said Thielen.
Under her measure, no tour buses or tour helicopters would be allowed to operate on Sunday across the state, and if they do, there would be major fines.
“Tours are, you know, bringing people to beaches that used to be just local residents, so that when we have our days off, we just never have a break,” said Thielen.
Under the measure, if a tour company doesn’t comply, fines could go all the way up to $10,000. Tour companies could even lose their license, after multiple non-compliance.
Last year tourism in Hawaii brought in $17.75 billion dollars, from shopping to hotel stays. If this bill is passed, that number could go down drastically.
Tour bus company, Roberts Hawaii said they will be monitoring the bill closely as it progresses.
KHON2 reached out to other tour companies for comment, and is still waiting to hear back. However, those we spoke on the phone with say enacting something like this would be difficult, as well as harmful to the tourism economy.
Thielen said she would be open to amending the bill as the session goes on.
“I would look at friendly amendments to say, ‘Okay, let’s protect residential areas. Let’s make it clear that tours are allowed in resort areas… in areas that are set up for large numbers of people like bishop museum and others,'” said Thielen.