HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lawmakers are expecting to hear several proposals regarding visitor fees during the upcoming legislative session. Governor-Elect Josh Green ran on a campaign that includes exploring a $50 fee per visitor, but some are now saying there could be other better options to consider. 

The endless sun, warm sand and blue waves are just some of the reasons why millions save up to visit Hawaii each year.

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Rosie Chavez said it was not a hard choice to visit Hawaii. 

Chavez said, “It’s been amazing. It’s been wonderful. It has. It’s just so beautiful here; everybody is so nice and welcoming.”

But, that dream Hawaii vacation could come with an added charge. The visitor fees would fund addressing climate change and its impacts on natural resources. Green has also said the fee could also possibly fund affordable housing projects. 

Tavin Hays who visited from Utah said she thinks this added fee could be a good idea. 

Hays said, “I think it definitely sounds fair there’s a large amount of tourists that contribute to the pollution and everything else that they leave on the island, so I think it’s a good idea.”

While some said the visitor’s fee would not make much of a difference given how much they already spend coming to the islands, others like Larry Shattuck said the fee could be an added obstacle. 

“To me, it sounds like one more roadblock to figure out when you get here,” Shattuck said. “As somebody that comes over and spends a lot of money anyway, I mean it’s not a lot of money but it’s one more thing to think about.” 

Researchers with the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii recently advised against such visitor fees. In the past, proposed “green fees” have not passed the state legislature, as the legality of only charging one group of people but not others remains an issue.

Rep. Richard Onishi said he has seen visitor fee proposals fail during his last six years serving as Labor and Tourism Committee chair. He said a charge for specific sites, such as the $25 entry fee at Hanauma Bay could be a better approach. 

Onishi said, “I think that’s something that we could do more of, and have a statewide application in which people can make reservations, who attend, you know, or participate in these natural resource areas.”

Meanwhile, Governor-Elect Josh Green in a statement said, 

“Our team believes we need to address the impact of climate change with dedicated, impact-based resources. A green fee on travelers makes sense, and we are optimistic there will be avenues to collect these fees to protect Hawaii’s environment. Everything is on the table. We want to approach this with a can-do, not a can’t-do, attitude.” 

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The Hawaii Tourism Authority Public Affairs Officer Ilihia Gionson also said that a fee on all arriving visitors may face logistical and legal challenges, but said they are looking forward to a conversation with the incoming administration on the best ways to have visitors contribute to the care of Hawaii’s natural resources.