Reserved areas for residents-only: HTA asks communities to consider new ideas for tourism

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Reserving areas for residents-only on the weekends. It’s an idea brought up by the President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. HTA says it has been talking to residents in every county as part of its community-based tourism program.

John de Fries, the head of HTA, says on every island there are hotspots that can get overcrowded and congested with traffic.

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“What we’ve asked them to consider is whether or not there are certain hotspots or certain areas that maybe belong to local residents only on Saturday and Sunday,” said De Fries.

The concept was shared as part of the Destination Management Action Plan community meetings, also known as DMAP. HTA says DMAP actions are created entirely by members of the respective communities, so it would be up to the communities to decide.

“If you’re a retailer or a restaurant owner, you may like the seven day traffic,” De Fries said. “If you’re just a resident that wants to enjoy public areas with your family, you might appreciate an opportunity to have weekends less crowded, right? So communities need to arrive at (or) get to that decision on their own.”

De Fries says this is just one example of the kinds of ideas they would encourage the communities to come up with.

“Every day for you as a visitor is a weekend. So, the fact that you have access to it Monday through Friday is wonderful. And the fact that it’s reserved for local residents on Saturdays and Sundays is a local solution to finding a way for the industry and community to coexist peacefully,” he said.

We spoke to one visitor from San Diego about the concept.

“I think there would be jealousy. We would want to be part of that kind of local culture and things like that but there would be understanding for sure. It wouldn’t be a deterrent to come to the island.” said Brittney Vanhese.

“The tourist are here 24/7, 365 days a year. It would be nice to have the place, give the place some rest. Let the local people have access to the resource,” said Alika Winter, a resident of Palolo.

“That would run the money away. That would run the people away. That would run the vacationers away, the tourist away,” said Kevin Wilson of Kahala.

Destination Management Action Plans have been published for Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. HTA says Oahu’s DMAP process is still in the works with a chance for residents to weigh in next week.

For more information, folks can sign-up to be on HTA’s distribution list and get access to the virtual community presentations to learn about the ideas generated by the Oahu Steering Committee to rebuild and redefine tourism.

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