HONOLULU (KHON2) — 90% of Hawaii’s food is imported, but a new study shows tourists are willing to pay more for locally sourced food.

A University of Hawaii professor released a study showing that eight out of every 10 tourists are willing to pay more for locally sourced food. “When people come on vacation, the tourists, they’re the highest spender, right? They’re willing to spend more because they’re on vacation.” Said Dr. Jerry Agrusa.

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The study found that first-time visitors are willing to spend the most for the experience because “they really want to engage both in local food, but part of it is the local culture. Hawaiian culture is intertwined with Hawaiian food,” Agrusa said.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority spoke on educating tourists on supporting local and trying to lean toward a more sustainable approach. They said it’s a “chance for visitors to experience firsthand the kinds of traditional food production practices, like volunteering at a fishpond.”

We’ve also supported efforts to grow agro tourism experiences like farm tours.”

Ilihia Gionson

Researchers hope this study will reduce our carbon footprint by importing fewer goods and encouraging locals with this hard evidence. Dr. Jerry Agrusa said they hope “one of the things that it’ll do is increase the number of local farmers.”

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Local farmers said they are excited to hear tourists are willing to spend more money.

Click here for more information on the study ‘The local food supply, willingness to pay and the sustainability of an island destination.’