Hawaii Accommodation Tax | Highest in US

Maui Won’t Stop New Hotels While Honolulu Looks At Visitor Curbs

If you have been to Hawaii recently, today’s post is a good opportunity to offer advice on things that can be improved. What each island is doing to better manage tourism is fascinating if nothing else. We’ve honestly never seen anything like this process here in Hawaii before. Yesterday, we shared some of the things happening on Kauai. At the same time, Maui and Honolulu are both trying to figure out what to do next. The state is creating Destination Management Action Plans for all of the islands, and Honolulu is next.

Honolulu and Oahu.

The state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority will next unveil its developing plan for Oahu, which is expected to be approved next week. When publically announced as early as next month, it should lay out steps that the visitor industry and community believe will improve the quality of Honolulu’s tourism over the next several years. This will be a community effort together with HTA to help identify opportunities and also promote sustainable tourism.

BOH: What would you like to see in Honolulu that would result in a better experience for both visitors and residents? 

Maui mayor vetoes hotel construction moratorium.

As you know, Maui’s Mayor Victorino recently called for airlines to limit service to Kahului voluntarily. That isn’t going to happen. On the other hand, he also just vetoed Bill 60, also known as the Hotel Construction Moratorium Bill. It had been passed by the County Council earlier this month and was intended to give the county time to implement an action plan related to the impact of the visitor industry on the island.

County Managing Director Sandy Baz said, “We are confident we are on our way to developing a better, more thoughtful approach to managing tourism in a way that will improve the experience of both residents and visitors. While the mayor appreciates the council’s intent and sentiment behind Bill 60, he believes it is more important for legislation to be effective and legal than for it to be fast.”

Baz said that the mayor doesn’t believe the bill would relieve airport crowding, reduce traffic, or reduce illegal vacation rentals. The mayor has been working with Airbnb and Expedia and could announce something soon about vacation rentals.

Could the county council still override the mayor’s veto? It is possible. Baz said, “Whether or not the council overrides that veto is in the council’s purview, and whether or not there are enough votes is really up to the members themselves.”

The group representing Maui hotels was opposed to the bill, obviously, and supported Victorino’s veto. No matter what happens, the issue is not going away for long. There is already a new draft bill in the legislative process. It, too, will look at many of the same issues.

BOH: So we have not heard the last of a hotel development moratorium on Maui. Do you think that this is the priority, or should it be illegal vacation rentals or something else entirely?

Changes ahead on Kauai. 

The Kauai Mayor Kawakami said this earlier in the week: “We see the opportunity to do better in managing visitor impact, and that includes implementing transportation mode change on our island… During the pandemic, our residents were given a glimpse of what life is like without the influx of cars on our roads, and there’s no denying how much traffic had improved.”

We don’t know what Kawakami’s statement means for Kauai going forward, although we see that, among other things, limiting access in the same way as has been implemented at Haena State Park could be extended to other popular places.

At Haena State Park, all non-Hawaii resident visitors are required to purchase both entrance and parking reservations. These reservations are available online and must be purchased in advance of arriving at the park. Visitors and our own experience indicate that these are sold out within minutes of being released, 30 days in advance. Hawaii resident visitors’ admission and parking are free with Hawaii ID.

In yesterday’s post about new Kauai transportation options, we shared a new way visitors can access reservations that might not otherwise be available. Some of you liked that while others did not.

BOH: Do you feel that the Haena State Park access model is working, or would you like to see something else done?

37 thoughts on “Maui Won’t Stop New Hotels While Honolulu Looks At Visitor Curbs”

  1. We just returned from our first trip to Hawaii. We stayed in Maui with a day-trip to Oahu to see Pearl Harbor, USS Missouri, etc. We had some very interesting conversations with taxi/tour drivers that highlighted some key issues. The state’s top industry is tourism, so if they want to restrict the industry, it would seem other changes need to happen first, or perhaps simultaneously.

    Agriculture used to be a top industry but sadly is not now. One of our drivers worked at the sugar factory on Maui for 30 years, but when the factory sold, it was shut down and everyone was let go. Some of that land now has tiny citrus trees, but it will take years for these to mature to the point of contributing anything to the economy. If the state government were interested in promoting agriculture, they could do this through various incentive programs. It seems to be a lost opportunity that could address a variety of issues including jobs not related to tourism and high food prices.

    Another driver confirmed that there are no large corporate headquarters located in Hawaii–his take on it was that A) Hawaii is too far from other places, and B) people like island time, which is not necessarily conducive for fast-paced, deadline-driven companies. But perhaps this is another lost opportunity; something in shipping immediately comes to mind.

    All that to say, if Hawaii does not want approximately 21% of its economy tied to tourism, then focusing on cultivating and supporting other industries is key. Building supportive infrastructure (like more robust ports/harbors and wider roads) adhering to a clock and casting an updated vision for the state economy would seem to be good places to start. We didn’t find much in the way of the “aloha spirit” there anyway, so maybe the islands need to shift focus away from tourism and take a hard look at diversifying their income streams through other industries.

  2. Just returned from Maui and Oahu 8 days. First time there and crammed as much as can be done in those days, diving, snorkel,local food, Road to Hana all the way, Wikki beach and city life. Stayed at the classic hotels and loved them, spent large and tipped well. Aloha is at risk though restrictions to get into several parks. I get it but a way forward needs to be made requiring reservations into a park with a two day window and a web site that shuts you out says don’t bother. Hawaii is at risk of being overly loved so some way forward is needed. The plan to return is definitely in the works but for me and mine Maui is the plan. Mahalo lui loa

  3. Aloha Guys
    Hawaii’s nice and lot of people want to go there…can’t change that.
    This is not an easy fix.
    What’s happening now is the type of tourism that is exploding. Internet savvy bargain hunters that want to avoid the resorts and are flooding private neighborhoods and often acting “like they are on vacation”. No surprise there, however being noisier than you would be at home, are less worried about were you park, throwing parties etc etc is not being a good neighbor. No not everyone is like that an nothing wrong with being well informed about a planned destination. Also a family traveling to Hawaii and sharing it’s wonders with their kids is a very magical thing. I do not want to come out as being against that in any way.
    I’m afraid the concept of requiring a reservation for some beaches will just shift the crowding around and in fact make it harder for residents as the people that can’t get a reservation just go elsewhere to hit the beach.
    Not sure there is a lot that can be done except perhaps a strong crackdown on illegal vacation rentals. Since the airlines are deregulated and can’t be stopped, it’s important to put the so called “SWA effect” in perspective. They have tried to aggressively expand their presence by feeding their extensive domestic market into Hawaii. We really don’t have the room to support all their frequent fliers looking for a bargain. The so called SWA effect has huge ramifications for a destination that cannot handle unchecked growth and contributes more than their fair share to the degradation of Hawaii as destination.
    We do not have the room that Las Vegas or Orlando does.

  4. Hi…will be looking forward to visiting tour “beautiful” island..on early October/ 2021..after..Oahu”…visit.🤙🤙🤙🤙😎😎…to really find out what they word of..”Paradise”…is really like.!!!🙏🙏🙏🙏💞

  5. To me, it’s really as simple as the “pandemic”🙄flushed out the locals not wanting the islands to continue to get overrrun. While that is great for them, and I *do* support where they are coming from, I lived out there. Did my homeless time on a few good occasions….not that I was not working, hustling, oh yeah, yes I was. But there’s no opportunity out there….unless if you belong to one of those few fams who run the islands, who “grad” from the proper school.
    I totally agree with the comments about pandering to the rich, the bag holders on island, the pretend “leaders” who are all vying for table scraps, they will continue to ensure that hotels get built. That the rich will continue to get taken care of. Me, I left. As many young people have, and will continue to do…..

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