Stop Vacationing in Hawaii.

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Many local and native Hawaiians hope tourism in their areas will decrease. In the meantime, they work towards solutions.

Long lines in Honolulu. (Image Credit: Brown Political Review)

For many, Hawaii is a tropical paradise. As a picture-perfect vacation spot, Hawaii is known for its gorgeous nature and a plethora of fun activities. The islands’ tourism industry is flourishing, but locals are not feeling those benefits.

                One of the primary issues caused by extreme tourism is reliance on imports. So much of Hawaii’s money goes into creating ideal spaces for visitors, leaving large areas on the islands without adequate public transportation. Many don’t invest in local businesses and communities, making it very difficult for the average person to make a living. Some have suggested that a good solution to this issue would be to invest in local agriculture. Hawaii has near perfect conditions to grow a fair number of crops; utilizing this would make the islands less reliant on imports and the tourism industry while also giving business to local farms.

Solar farm in Poipu. (Image Credit: Scientific American)

                Hawaii also has the perfect environment for developing clean energy. With its unique ecosystems, the islands could lead research in geothermal energy, algae farms, solar/wind power, and much more. The University of Hawaii is a recognized research institution with programs available for studies of land, water, and space. The islands’ potential is unlimited, but overreliance on tourism is limiting the progress that can be made.

                  A lot of the times, regular visitors aren’t the problem. It’s people who feel entitled to whatever they want and don’t respect the rules. Some note that this issue likely stems from the idea that Hawaii isn’t the same as any other state or country, but rather a far-off theme park. When they are met with the reality that it’s a place where people live for something other than the tourist industry, they become difficult.

Brush fire around Lahaina’s Kauaula Valley in Maui. (Image Credit: CNN)

                Some of the main issues involve tourists ignoring signs and warnings. They’ll get too close to turtles or even touch them. They’ll take lava rocks even though it’s majorly disrespectful. One of the worst cases of disrespect from tourists was after the tragic Maui fires. 93 people died in the fires in Lahaina, many jumping into the ocean to escape the flames. As early as the next day, tourists were swimming in those waters and going about their vacations like nothing happened.

                It’s this type of visitation that damages the reputation of all visitors. A proposed idea to lower the amount of visitors to the islands was to raise the expenses incurred by tourists through raising the state tax on hotel rooms 1% (raising the tax to 10.25%) or adding a $25 flat fee. This is in addition to a 3% tax on accommodations that counties can charge at their discretion. The idea failed for its third consecutive year in March 2024.

                A new idea has since emerged. House Bill 2563 would require the development of a mobile app that would be used to charge tourists fees for access to things like parking lots at beaches and trails. A hearing for this bill should be scheduled in the near future.

                 Hawaii has had a rocky history with its mainland counterparts in the states. They were illegally annexed by the US after a coup staged by American Plantation owners on the islands. Ever since, Hawaii has been plagued by tourism and corporations doing what they can to profit off the land. Their culture has been treated like an attraction at an amusement park.

                Many suggest that Hawaii could not survive without the tourism industry. Polls from 2018 indicate that more than half of Hawaii’s population agree that tourism does more harm than good. People have taken advantage of the islands for too long, and once it is allowed to heal, it will be more than capable of existing independently. The US’s illegal occupation of Hawaii has to end.

Written by Olivia Marant

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