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

$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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113 thoughts on “$50 Hawaii Visitor “Climate Impact Fee” Re-dubbed After Lahaina Fire”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.”


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