Hawaii has all the time been a go-to vacation spot for vacationers—and plenty of Hawaiians are used to it. However since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted this spring, there’s been a rush of vacationers that has rattled even probably the most hardened residents.
Hawaii is at the moment on monitor to surpass its 2019 tourism numbers, regardless of the state solely being absolutely opened since July 8. Because the quarantine restrictions have been lifted, Hawaii has seen almost 200,000 self-described vacationers arrive on their shores.
These numbers have led to a number of points like site visitors congestion, extra garbage and lack of transportation sources. An absence of rental vehicles have even led some tourists to use U-Hauls to get around. Hawaiian authorities officers and the tourism boards are scrambling to unravel the overtourism points, which consultants declare won’t level off until 2022.
“We’re working towards extra conscious and, in the end, regenerative tourism the place guests take the time to know every island and the native tradition and group,” mentioned Kalani Ka‘anā‘anā, chief model officer of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, through electronic mail. “As tourism begins to get better, we encourage vacationers to be open-minded and respectful as we consider that when guests journey mindfully and make a optimistic influence, they’ll have a extra enriching expertise.”
Listed below are 4 methods Hawaii is coping with the current inflow of tourism to its islands.
Growing charges for out-of-state vacationers
Snorkeling the translucent waters of Hanauma Nature Bay now comes with a heftier price ticket. In response to the Related Press, the doorway charge for out-of-state guests has elevated from $12 to $25.
The elevated entrance charge has nothing to do with punishing vacationers and extra to do with preserving the pure behavior of the realm. In response to Honolulu conservation teams, the nine-month shutdown led to clearer waters and the return of wildlife to the coasts.
“We noticed how dramatically Hanauma Bay healed in the course of the pandemic when entry to the general public was closed. We need to protect the therapeutic by minimizing human impacts, whereas on the identical time making certain that there are enough sources to keep up the bay and its services,” mentioned Honolulu Metropolis Council Chairman Tommy Waters, who represents the district that features the bay, through the Associated Press.
Presently, Hanauma Bay is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and has a cap of 1,000 guests per day on the times it is opened. All reservations have to be made online. In response to the AP, attendance was roughly round 3,000 guests day by day in 2019.
In Maui, officers are debating implementing a “customer influence charge” to fund providers wanted to fight elevated guests’ burden on the island.
“Locations just like the Galapagos, it is costly to get there. Galapagos, you would need to pay an additional $400 for influence charges if you happen to’re visiting the Galapagos,” Maui County Councilman Shane Sinenci mentioned throughout a press convention through ABC7 News.
Hawaii counties are additionally contemplating a 3% hotel room tax increase. The present lodge tax is 15%. The improve would make Hawaii some of the costly locations to go to within the nation. Las Vegas has a lodge room tax of 13.35%, whereas San Francisco costs 14% and New York Metropolis 14.75%.
“We really feel that guests can and will contribute to serving to to protect our pure sources, particularly those that go to our parks, climbing trails, seashores, and so on. whereas in Hawai‘i,” mentioned the Hawaiian Tourism Board. “Tax choices are made by the governor, mayors, legislators and council members, because the state and counties can decide entrance and parking charges for guests at parks to assist pay for security, maintenance, and reinvestment in these areas.”
Maui mayor requests tourism pause
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino is looking for a normal pause of tourism to the island. The primary-term mayor reportedly met with airline executives to request a short stoppage of passengers to the overpopulated vacation spot.
“I’ve been speaking with completely different airways and … we’re asking for only a pause, if you wish to use that time period,” Victorino mentioned throughout a press conference on June 29. “We do not have the authority to say cease, however we’re asking the powers to be to assist us …
“I need to remind the guests that Maui is a group first and a trip vacation spot second.”
Victorino’s pleas will doubtless do little to curb the inflow of vacationers. Based mostly on the state of Hawaii COVID-19 travel portal, almost 80,000 passengers got here through United Airways, whereas Hawaiian Airways flew in over 60,000 and Southwest almost 50,000 passengers in July alone.
Alex Da Silva, the spokesman for Hawaiian Airways, mentioned the airline service is fascinated by working in tandem with Hawaiian leaders to discover a resolution to the tourism considerations.
“As Hawaii’s hometown airline, we each reside and work right here and are aware of the pressure on our infrastructure, pure sources and communities posed by a rebound in customer arrivals, particularly when companies nonetheless face operational restrictions related to COVID-19,” Da Silva mentioned in a press release through The Star Advertiser. “However we all know that guests are additionally the engine of our financial restoration and future diversification.”
New shuttle bus service
The 2-week pilot program will goal to scale back the variety of automobiles on the highway and reduce site visitors congestion, which has solely gotten worse since COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted on the islands. This system is slated to finish on July 17, however it might run all through the remainder of the summer season if profitable.
“Our hope is that it turns into so fashionable with the guests that we are able to proceed it by way of the summer season after which it would assist with the entire group versus customer relationship too,” mentioned Leanne Pletcher, Maui Guests and Conference Bureau Director of Public Relations and Advertising to Hawaii News Now.
In response to Hawaii Information Now, the “Maui Aloha Shuttle” will make three journeys every day utilizing coaches supplied by Polynesian Journey Excursions. Charges are $50 for a one-way journey to West Maui, $35 for youngsters ages 4-12; $35 to Wailea and $20 for teenagers 4-12. Youngsters three and youthful are free. Shuttle bus tickets could be bought on the airport.
Elevated regulation enforcement on Hana Freeway
The 64-mile road to Hana, higher generally known as the Hana Freeway, is a significant vacationer attraction and has solely gotten extra fashionable since tourism has resumed. The winding highway stuffed with picturesque views of waterfalls and jagged shoreline entices many guests to cease for an image. Nevertheless, right here lies the issue.
The Hana Freeway can also be the principle highway Maui residents use. Excessive vacationer site visitors not solely results in congestion however negatively impacts residents attempting to reside their lives.
“You might have 40 to 50 vehicles piling up at these site visitors lights after which embarking bumper to bumper alongside the Highway to Hana, and when these units of vehicles stumble upon the bridges the place there are folks illegally parked it creates eventualities of full stoppage,” mentioned Hana resident and Hana Freeway Regulation Administrator Napua Hueu to KHON2.com. “We have now residents who’ve despatched in movies of them being stalled at a bridge for as much as half-hour.”
In response to resident pleas, the Hawaii Division of Transportation (HDOT) has put in roughly 70 “No Parking” indicators alongside the most well-liked areas on the Hana Freeway.
Mayor Victorino’s workplace reported that between June 1 and June 23, the Maui Police Division issued 389 parking citations and 83 warnings to violators on Hana Freeway between Haiku and Hana city.