Hawaii Vacation Pitfalls That Now Demand Your Attention

$50 Hawaii Visitor “Climate Impact Fee” Re-dubbed After Lahaina Fire

We said previously that the $50 Green Fee (named now after Hawaii Governor Josh Green), once called the “Visitor Impact Fee” would be back, and apparently there’s no better time than the present. The name, post tragic Lahaina fire, will be changed.

The last time Governor Green raised the plan for a tourist fee, he found that it was not possible to charge that as broadly as he had hoped. Therefore, before dying in the prior legislature, it morphed into a tax on use of Hawaii state beaches, parks and other facilities only. Green ran for governor on the premise of a visitor tax, with hopes that it would raise hundreds of million per year. “As governor, I will propose a $50 impact fee for visitors.” — Josh Green. He also estimated the fee could raise up to $600 million per year and would reduce the quantity of Hawaii’s “low-end” visitors and “the total number of tourists.”

What became of the first $50 tax on Hawaii visitor arrivals?

The fees were originally to have been assessed via airlines or accommodations. That prospect was deemed likely unconstitutional, among other issues, which resulted in Governor Green pulling back from that methodology.

It was resurrected as a fee on state parks or other facilities. That was vague and problematic and unclear as to whether it would even work. Green wanted to have permits or licenses issued visitors online or through stores. Currently, some of Hawaii’s state parks already have fee systems in place, including Diamond Head State Monument, Hanauma Bay State Park, Wainapanapa State Park, Haena State Park, and Iao Valley State Monument.

Many question Hawaii’s spending of visitor money.

Hawaii is infamous for visitor and resident taxes and fees never reaching intended goals. So the “Green Fee” too may have good intentions but fall into the same trap.

Everyone wonders where the state’s highest accommodation tax in the country goes. That is a tax paid by both visitors and by residents in Hawaii who travel. It isn’t apparent how the money is used given the painfully lacking infrastructure seen from Hawaii parks to airports, and public roads to restrooms.

The situation was made more clear as Beat of Hawaii editors traveled throughout Europe this summer, contrasting various aspects of Hawaii tourism and that of other world-famous idyllic vacation spots. The lack of prioritizing reinvestment in Hawaii’s all-important tourism infrastructure is nothing short of egregious.

Will another “Green Fee” be yet one more turnoff to visitors?

This comes at a time when Maui is in deparate need of the return of visitors following the Lahaina fire.

In thousands of comments on BOH, visitors bemoaned being unfairly charged such a $50 fee as simply adding insult to injury. From our take, Hawaii needs to find better ways to raise money and provide more apparently benefits than it does now.

New $50 fee to benefit firefighting.

Regarding a new direction for the green fee, the governor said “We’re going to need money to make sure we have more firefighters, that we have more equipment, and we have more money for investigations like this.” Again, undoubtedly well-meaning, but will that money actually ever end up benefiting the state with more fire-prevention? Governor Green talked about monies going into a “special fund.” But, based on what we know of Hawaii’s fiscal responsibility, we are sadly discouraged.

Hawaii’s firefighting efforts unquestionably need help.

It came to light that Hawaii is the only state that doesn’t have a state fire marshal. There was one, but that position was eliminated decades ago. Tragically, such an office would be vital coordination of efforts between agencies with responsibilities typically also including fire prevention and investigation efforts.

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122 thoughts on “$50 Hawaii Visitor “Climate Impact Fee” Re-dubbed After Lahaina Fire”

  1. As the price of a Hawaiian vacation continues to rise, the Governor seems confused about why people are not coming. Now he is intent on raising taxes and fees, remember that doctors are notoriously bad with money. At this rate Hawaii will need to become a Real Jurassic Park before tourists will begin flocking again.

  2. Instead of raising the green fees, why don’t they stop taking all the Transient tax money that comes to the islands and only funds the Oahu rail system, none of that money stays on our islands and just pays for more corrupt construction companies and delays, Let Oahu pay for their real system, and keep tourism here on our small island, this money would help our infrastructure Rhodes beaches immensely, Mr. Green give that a thought😡😡😡

  3. $50 fee? Those are lame loosely cobbled ideas aimed at lowly tourists. Why not go Big? Do it right? All non native homeowners should pay a very special tax on each home, with those owning more than 1 home paying double tax on each home. Owners like Jeff Bezos, PayPal Peter Theil, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah etc paying % of their mega estates if homes are more than 1,300 sq.ft.

  4. Does this mean when Hawaiians come over to the mainland they should be charged the same $50.00 fee for each state they visit?? How ridiculous! Last I looked we were all part of the USA. I have been overseas and this idea is just nonsense.
    I really think the governor should go back to being a full time doctor and Hawaiians should vote in a business man or woman in the next election It is clear he is floundering

  5. As a resident on the big Island, My take is the Govenor is just another out of touch politician. The answer is always to collect more money. That is all they know how to do.

    Visitors already pay a BIG room tax and many other high cost to come to the islands, and now the governor says please come back, but wait, we are going to charge another flat $50 fee on top of the rest of your vacation expense.

    People chose to travel, remember the Aloha spirit, take that away and we living on the Islands will be more and more dependent on government subsidies instead of jobs.

    What would Hawaiin residents say if the mainland charged a $50 per person impact fee for Hawaiians to visit the mainland. The Outrage would be historic.

  6. Every state has tourism and haa reasons to visit. Hawaii has its distinctions, but is no better than any other state. The arrogance is showing.

    1. JP, and some act as though only tourists damage coral etc. If one American has to pay a fee, all Americans should have to pay the fee.

      But, the first thing they should do is determine areas of govt where they can cut unnecessary or wasteful costs. But, not, govt thinks the folks should fork over more dollars.


  7. I will not argue that the destruction of Lahaina town is a disaster of epic proportions. I have no idea just how many people visit Maui with Lahaina as their primary reason for visiting the island, but I am sure the percentage is substantial. So now Governor Green wants to “tax” visitors to rebuild something that is not there now. For many $50 a person would not change the destination. However you add $200 for a family of 4 and many people just may rethink where they will spend their vacation dollars. People will vote with their feet. That is happening in my home state of California, people leaving due to taxes.

    I know that I am seeing more advertisements for other island or tropical vacation destinations than I did prior to 8/8/23.

    1. As I lay here in the sun,I don’t think about Hawaii except when reading BOH. Cancun is an amazing vacation destination, plain and simple. I am really enjoying the All Inclusive destinations that do keep the tourists in mind, unlike Hawaii. I have little doubt that I will be back at least one more time, it’s just when?

  8. This really seems like a punishment for tourists due to the Hawaii State government failing to adequately plan for contingencies. We in Colorado have many wildfires each year, and granted our loss of life in no way even compares to the tragedy in Maui. That said, would people be in support of a $50 fee for Tourists to support enhancing their state programs or make up for poor planning. Perhaps a less offensive way to boost tax revenue in Hawaii is to create a statewide livable minimum wage. That would boost income, at the expense of tourists for the services they use and would raise the standard of living for the Hawaiian people at the same time boosting Hawaii State Tax Revenue, in a manner that isn’t offensive to tourists.

  9. I think that the BOH boys answered their own question about the appropriateness of the new fee by acknowledging that certain locations in Hawaii already charge a usage or admittance fee.

    It is common for most state and federal parks to charge an admission fee for operational reasons.

    As for mistrust of how the money would be used, the article fell woefully short on specifics about that concern, advising simply that…”But, based on what we know of Hawaii’s fiscal responsibility, we are sadly discouraged.” That’s an opinion, not a fact. Support the opinion with concrete examples, and perhaps I would agree.

  10. How will the Green Fee be implemented because I am a local resident and how can we make sure I/locals will not be charged the Green Fee.

    1. Green will be coming for you. He is willing to take away everyone’s money, residents and tourists, to make things “even”. Of course Green won’t be paying, he’s an exempt entity.

  11. Our maui trip was canceled. Now extra money /fees?
    Hawaii expensive as it was but now we will never be able to go. Saved 4 years for this months trip. Have to do with the US Virgin Islands and Bahamas. Hawaii out of reach now.

    1. The amount of money that you have saved for the Hawaiian Vacation should give you enough money for a couple of over the top vacations, Enjoy! After a while the desire of Hawaii will be replaced by destinations that are at least as beautiful and more friendly.

  12. If this is proposed towards a need for more Firefighters, recall that many were persecuted and Fired for not agreeing with the jab mandate being pushed by this current governor—then, Lt. Governor/Doctor. We do not hear anymore about this.

  13. I will gladly pay $50 for a criminal investigation of Green, Bissen, and Pelletier and responsibility for the Lahaina fire deaths.

  14. A $50 visitor fee just says “we don’t value visitors… please find somewhere else to spend your money”.

    This is so typical of progressive mindset. “We don’t have enough money so let’s keep asking people for more”. Politicians in Hawaii need to learn to live within their means and work to make Hawaii an attractive and affordable vacation destination. Skyrocketing accommodation and transportation costs make Hawaii a no-go zone for many people now.

    1. The state and local leaders need to find a way to show visitors more ‘Aloha’ instead of asking them to pay for the leaders incompetence and corruption, and greed !

    2. Before politicizing the issue, you should check on the current status of visitor impact or admission fees on the mainland in most state and nearly all federal parks. You will find that the practice is quite common in states of both political persuasions.

      1. I know of no state that charges everyone a fee to enter. Charge me a fee to enter a State park – sure. Then it’s my choice. Charge me a fee to cross a US State “border” – nope.

        1. Be honest now. Why are you and most people coming to any Hawaii island? Aside from business, everyone is here to enjoy Hawaii’s plethora of beaches, trails, geologic and cultural features. My children operated a dive business before being destroyed in the fire. They lamented the devastation witnessed under water by the crush of visitors. The visitor fee is needed to help manage the sheer numbers that use damaging sunscreen, walk on coral, invade sensitive areas off-trail.

          Hawaii is one giant National/state park. Enjoy it but don’t compare Hawaii to any other state.

          1. I’ll quote JP in another BoH thread on same topic … He said it well…

            “Every state has tourism and has reasons to visit. Hawaii has its distinctions, but is no better than any other state. The arrogance is showing.”

      2. Federal and State parks aside, which State, or States, have levied fees specific to tourism? California? The other Anything for a Buck State!

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