Kee Beach, Haena State Park

Hawaii’s Latest Tourism Management Idea Includes Pre-Paid Beach & Park Reservations

Hawaii lawmakers are looking at ways to manage tourism through an upcoming new state visitor app. It will offer a wide-scale tourist registration system for “tourism hot spots.” This comes in response to the state’s ongoing tourism challenges and even mimics the app used at Disneyland. Will the kingdom built by Walt spread magic here?

Hanauma Bay

Inspired in part by Disneyland app.

The proposed statewide visitor app seeks to modernize and simplify the visitor experience in a number of ways. It would provide real-time information about popular destinations and help direct visitors to less crowded attractions when needed.

The concept is in part inspired by, of all things, Disneyland’s app. That is in spite of Hawaii taking great offense to the appearance of visitors treating Hawaii like the Magic Kingdom. Disneyland says that their mobile app “Helps streamline your next visit and make the theme park experience better than ever before. Check park hours, see wait times, browse interactive maps, locate some of your favorite Disney Characters, order food, and so much more.”

Lawmakers want to implement a comprehensive solution that offers convenience, promotes responsible, distributed tourism practices, and increases revenue. If approved, the plan is to implement this first at six locations to be selected.

Key features of a new statewide visitor app.

First, details of how this will work are still to be revealed. What we know is that there is a planned facility reservation system that will be used on a statewide basis. On an Apple/Android app, visitors will be able to purchase pre-paid time slots to park at popular destinations, thereby reducing congestion and parking shortages.

This would be similar to what visitors already experience at Oahu’s Hanauma Bay and Kauai’s Haena State Park. The state believes that these are examples of hot spots that now have an enhanced visitor experience. They have, at the same time, minimized negative impact on residents. We’ll stop at Hanauma Bay later in the week to give you more first-hand reporting of how things are working at that iconic Oahu destination.

The app is intended to provide suitable alternative destinations during peak times and seasons, to move visitors to less crowded places, and to thus help distribute tourism’s impact more uniformly throughout the state.

Accessibility is another aspect of the proposal, which includes things like locating accessible restrooms, and accessible parking spots, to having multi-language functionality.

New Hawaii visitor app will offer safety and cultural guidelines, too.

The app will focus on visitor awareness and offer safety guidelines for different destinations, cultural traditions, and sustainability endeavors. The goal is to promote more responsible tourism behavior and foster a greater understanding of and respect for Hawaii’s traditions and environment.

The idea is promoted by Representative Sean Quinlan, Chair of the House Tourism Committee.

Quinlan has emphasized the importance of effectively managing Hawaii’s visitor flow to help mitigate adverse impacts on both the local communities and our natural resources. Lawmakers want to find a good balance between both promoting and managing tourism while preserving Hawaii’s unique character and unspoiled beauty. Quinlan said that the focus is essentially two-fold. First, to create more Hawaii parks accessible to visitors by reservation only. The second is to generate funds for use by the facilities. Exactly how funds will be appropriated remain to be unveiled.

HTA will be in charge of the new reservation system.

A proposed bill would require the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to develop the new reservation system for parking at tourism hot spots. This seems ambitious and far-reaching for HTA, although we remain hopeful.

The visitor parking reservation system will allocate pre-paid time slots at locations that are still to be designated. The fees collected through the new app-based system are planned to directly benefit either the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (state facilities) or the county park systems. These funds will be earmarked for maintenance and improvement.

This proposal is supported by both the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association.

What are your thoughts on this latest idea? Would you be more or less inclined to visit Hawaii if this new app is needed?

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98 thoughts on “Hawaii’s Latest Tourism Management Idea Includes Pre-Paid Beach & Park Reservations”

  1. I think the reason I enjoy Hawaii so much is the ability to disconnect from my phone and from having to be anywhere at a particular time. Fortunately, I’ve done all the hotspots enough that I won’t have to join in that particular rat race while on vacation.

  2. Catrina,

    There are 49 other states. Your own country is beautiful too. I haven’t been to the Eastern cities, but the last time I was in Vancouver – it was great.

    I live about 100 miles from LA in the high desert. My wife likes it more than I do. But we are only about an hour from Palms Springs and Big Bear Lake – so it’s convenient. Good luck!!!

    We expect to make two trips to Hawaii this year, the regular one in August with family and another in November to attend the funeral of my best Marine Corps buddy.

    I’m 79, wife is younger, and November will probably be our final trip to Hawaii. Mostly good times since 1965. I’d like a vacation in the Caribbean, she won’t leave the country. Good luck!

  3. Ps. We are Canadian and travelling with a deflated dollar Canadians don’t feel welcome either! Hoping our experience in April is a good one! Nice to go before more restrictions and fees are in place

  4. We already purchase reservations for Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s not an issue for me.
    And it costs $2 a pop (plus the cost of the park pass).
    If we ever go back to Hawaii, I don’t know what we will do.
    As I have said many times, Hawaii is one of the 50 states. If it wants to change to a territory or country, then I can understand running it as they choose.

    1. Visitor fees are not unique to Hawai’i. They are quite common in resort destinations in coastal California. Moreover, the Federal government charges fees at National Parks. Hawai’i has every right to charge visitor fees just like other states do.

      1. Tim H,

        You’re right about the use of such fees in other places. The difference is that the Hawaiian government seems to treat them as a punishment, while the others don’t.

  5. We love Maui, or better said, loved. The feel of a Hawaiian vacation has gone from a year long anticipation, and gratitude to dread and uneasiness. We booked last year for April and have been on the edge of our seat waiting for the next shoe to drop ever since. Already planning next year and know the anxiety caused by costs, proposed restrictions and anti tourism vibes has us headed elsewhere. We are looking forward to looking forward to a restful and fun holiday!

  6. Mexico and Costa Rica are full of American, European and Canadian tourists this year. Tourists don’t really go to the countries you mentioned for a beach vacation in your reply anyway. Security is always a concern in Hawaii with all the homeless people on the streets and beaches. No one wants to come to Hawaii to be disrespected by aggressive, ignorant locals who call you Haoli especially when hotel rates and taxes are ridiculously high and service is just plain lousy. Imagine playing golf or going for an excursion and the locals are getting a Kamaaina rate and you are paying full pop and being told how to behave! Goodbye Hawaii, it was great knowing you. Next stop, Portugal 🇵🇹 and Spain 🇪🇸!


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