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?