The record influx of visitors in Hawaii is something to behold. For those of us here, we went from almost no tourism to the verge of breaking records in about four months.
Changes are coming, and with those, a Hawaii vacation could have additional costs and require more planning as new measures are implemented.
Visitor impact fees.
On Maui, for example, the county council may consider the idea of visitor impact fees. While not new globally, these could be a first for Hawaii. Shane Sinenci of east Maui is spearheading the concept. He wants to see an extra fee added to every airline ticket to Maui. He said, “Places like the Galapagos, it’s expensive to get there. Galapagos, you would have to pay an extra $100 for impact fees if you’re visiting the Galapagos.”
How would this help control the volume of tourism? He said his goal is to create a higher level of respect for the islands, although how fees would accomplish that goal also isn’t clear. Would returning residents of Maui be exempt from any fee? And is that legal, and how would it be enforced? You can’t expect the airlines to determine who is visiting and who lives on the island.
Traffic mitigation, fines and surcharges.
Maui Mayor Victorino also addressed tourism issues this week, and specifically, the traffic on the Hana Highway, where up to 600 people a day drive that small winding road.
The mayor said that traffic congestion is a serious problem that’s preventing police access on the island. He said that “a choice must be made between enforcing parking violations or responding to the thousands of calls that MPD receives each week. I’m sure our citizens agree that enforcing crime is a higher priority than parking violations, but we are working toward other solutions.”
New Hana Highway warning signs.
Recently, the Hana Highway has had 70 new parking enforcement signs installed in conjunction with the state. They warn of both a $35 fine for parking in a no-parking zone and an additional $200 surcharge for illegally stopping on a state highway. Signs notwithstanding, the mayor indicated that the police issued nearly 500 parking citations and warnings so far in June along the Hana Highway.
Other mitigation efforts apparently include the county working with airlines to reduce flights into Maui voluntarily. Also, the mayor plans to work via accommodation providers and car rental companies to help visitors better coordinate travel on-island. Maui is also in the process of creating paid parking locations along the Hana Highway.
Other Examples Where Visitor Conservation and Impact Fees Apply:
Kauai – Access beyond Hanalei to Haena State Park and Kee Beach requires advance reservations and sells out normally 30 days in advance. This controls the number of cars and people daily. While the fee is nominal ($10 per car and $5 for each person without), the system works by limiting cars and traffic. Today, the state DLNR announced a community-based manager to oversee Haena State Park, which will manage the reservation system, entry and parking fees, and a shuttle bus service. A focus will be on the cultural aspects of the park.
Big Island and Maui – Volcanos National Park and Haleakala National Park – Fees have increased to $30 a car and $15 for pedestrians.
Oahu – Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – The entry fee has increased to $12.
HTA stated that “Hawaii’s unspoiled natural beauty is the foundation of Hawaii’s tourism product.” Fees are likely to be subject to significant increases ahead.
Hana Highway: why it’s so popular.
A top favorite on Maui and statewide, this is one of the great road trips globally, not just in Hawaii. The 65 mile-long drive takes you from Kahului to Hana town in east Maui. This is not a road to be rushed, and the time to cover the distance is longer than expected. The road is narrow and winding, with some 59 bridges, of which most are one-way. Many of the bridges are over 100 years old.
Along the way, you are greeted with waterfalls and unparalleled views of the Maui coastline and rainforest.
There are many stops possible along the way. The first stop might be Paia town, where you’ll have plenty of chances to refill both your trip supplies and the gas tank. Nearby you’ll find epic windsurfing at Hookipa Beach Park, another favorite stop along the way before getting serious.
Hana town is a step back in time, and if you continue even further, you’ll be greeted with even more fabulous views and beaches.
What’s your reaction to fees and other changes ahead?