Alleged Hawaii Travel Industry Corruption Exposed By NYT

Governor Says “Move Hawaii Beyond Tourism”

Newly elected Governor Josh Green delivered his first State of the State Address this week to a session of Hawaii’s Legislature. In the address, we were anxious to hear about his plans for Hawaii travel. He spoke primarily, however, about other issues that are critical to the state, including a severe lack of affordable housing, help for low-income families, and homelessness.

What Gov. Green did and didn’t say about Hawaii travel.

The governor was concerningly short on words regarding Hawaii’s only viable economic engine, the Hawaii travel industry. He said these two brief things regarding his vision for Hawaii tourism. The first was “We will begin to move our economy beyond tourism. The second was, “In the coming years, we will reposition our economy to pursue global opportunities — retooling tourism.

Maybe more interesting than what Green did say was what he didn’t mention. That is regarding his planned $50 visitor arrival fee. He said as recently as last week that he would find a feasible method to implement that. But any concrete information about how and when that could happen hasn’t been discussed.

Does the governor value the Hawaii visitor industry? Perhaps not.

Something else we found interesting. Green never said that he or the state appreciated Hawaii travel and its visitors and what that has done to keep the state coffers afloat. Again, this is to a large degree the only money-making venture the state has, and when nothing is said, it makes it appear to be taken for granted. No matter how much Hawaii may want to evolve tourism, this can come across as insular, callous, and misguided by not saying something more. To best move Hawaii tourism forward, bringing the tourism industry stakeholders and visitors along with us on the journey seems the best way.

Hawaii has failed completely in any economic diversification.

UHERO (the state of Hawaii’s research arm at the University of Hawaii) previously said that Hawaii’s exclusive focus on tourism “Exposes the economy of Hawaii to external shocks that trigger collapses in tourist numbers. Furthermore, Hawaii’s economic growth has diminished for decades as the dominance of tourism has not generated productivity growth.”

And while Hawaii policymakers, including newly elected Governor Josh Green, continue to talk diversification, nothing is happened or is on the horizon of substance. As UHERO said, this isn’t entirely different than other similar, small, and isolated economies. The state’s research arm, UHERO, proposes that Hawaii target new industries that use related know-how or Hawaii-specific resources.

Even more concerning was when UHERO said, “That diversification policy will fund special interests rather than genuine economic development initiatives.”



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39 thoughts on “Governor Says “Move Hawaii Beyond Tourism””

  1. You won’t need to worry about tourism. Prices are getting so high that there are many more comparable beach nations closer to contental us

  2. If Gov Green or anyone is serious about diversification of the economy they should consider the following:
    1) Eliminate the income tax (Hawaii makes enough money off tourism, property tax, the excise tax, and other fees collected)
    2) Bring back the ferry (While building bridges between the islands isn’t feasible connected via ferry is. This would open up lands under utilized for business, housing, & other uses)
    3) Open Hawaii to the big banks (Local banks have strangled Hawaii’s growth by contributing to mismatched wage to cost of living, limited capital availability and growth)
    4) Create a hydrogen ecosystem (Shift off imported energy, create molten salt batteries, reduce cost of living
    5) Rezone (Expand developable land)
    6) Elect me

    1. Enforce the laws against illegal STR, causing the majority of problems. Shut’m down, fine them, both. Of course that requires “work”! But instead the government continues to raise taxes on legal STR businesses (requiring No work) through their licenses. It’s a brain dead cash cow to govt. coffers, making Hawaii visitors pay the 2nd. highest TAT in the country…for now. While Gov.Green blows off tourism for what? To compete with Cal.agriculture? Alaska fishing industry? Hollywood?
      Gov. Green sounds more like a non business man everyday. Hawaii is what it is, no politician will change it.

  3. State lotto, recreational marijuana, speeding up the building permit process, supporting the air bnb and other rental business are just a few that would directly help Locals ( not the airlines or resorts).

    1. Good points. However speeding up building permits has proven impossible for the bureaucrats for nearly 2 decades. Infected by nepotism, graft and lack of determination.

  4. Perhaps tax incentives or credits for profit and non-profit businesses that have a small corporate footprint that hire locals and promote minimal use of carbon resources, use recycled consumables and office structures (used shipping containers), with natural parking areas (rolled dirt or rock instead of asphalt or concrete), rainwater collection for building water, to offset plumbing provided water use, small wind turbines and solar roof panels to lower costs of electricity and “hamster wheel” concept cardio machines in the fitness center to also generate electricity, further off-setting costs. Last idea to lower business impact on the islands, resources and community; set up eight hours a week salary to be paid by doing volunteer labor.


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