No matter how much money they may have, visitors don’t like the feeling of being nickeled-and-dimed to death. Had we not heard those exact words used countless times in your comments, it may not have caught our attention in the way that it just did. Here are some examples. Let us know which comment you agree with most.
Lori: I would rather pay one fee than be nickeled and dimed at each park, beach, and attraction.
Steve: It appears that rather than welcome tourists, the goal is to nickel and dime them over every little thing possible. Every trip I find more things that are being charged for, and while some are worthwhile, many are just a way for the state to take in money, with little of the money spent on improving the park or area.
Lynn: Budget determines where folks can and will go. This may cause Hawaii to lose money from visitors choosing not to go somewhere where they will be nickeled and dimed for everything on vacation.
Andy: Airlines continually nickel and dime the traveler over and over and they are oblivious to the fact that they are notoriously hated.
Rita: As a frequent visitor… we already pay higher taxes for residing at Hawaii hotels /resorts… It seems like visitors are perhaps being nickeled and dimed to death and not appreciated… Unless the goal of the Hawaiian government is to keep visitors away.
Barbara: I would gladly pay a “visitor’s fee” rather than be nickel-and-dimed every day when I want to visit a beach. I totally understand that concept of visitors participating in maintaining Kauai but please don’t hit me over the head every day of my stay!
Jim: Doesn’t matter how rich one is. No one likes to be nickel and dimed.
Jen: We’ve loved going to Hawaii for years. But the taxes and fees are getting to the point of being ridiculous. I feel like Hawaii is making it clear that tourism is not wanted. We usually spend a good amount of money there. We don’t go cheap but want to spend our money where we can go and know that we won’t be nickeled and dimed.
Tony: What I believe Kauai should try to avoid is looking like the Disneyland Money machine where every time you turn around you are laying out more cash and feel nickel & dimed to death… Where does $ go?
Tana: These islands seem to be nickel and diming tourists and it’s getting really old and annoying. Hawaii is expensive to go to and stay at, real people have to save and work extra to go, all these fees will add to the difficulties of going.
Nickle-and-diming feels like the antithesis of aloha.
It isn’t just how much you charge, but the perception of the value of both the product offered and the visitors who are the consumers. At every level, Hawaii has clearly missed the boat in this area.
Hotel rates and resort fees: How does the $1,600/night average rate sound?
In the latest month reported by the state (see report below), Wailea hotels lead the average rates being charged with a whopping $1,136 per night. Not including taxes and fees including resort fees. In total, that represents approximately $1,600/night on average.
Accommodation taxes: the highest in the country.
The accommodation taxes added to hotels and vacation rentals went up 3% in the last year. Hawaii’s legislature kicked off these increases via HB 862. That measure went into effect starting last October. As a result, the state now has the highest combined accommodation tax in the US.
The state legislature approved the accommodation taxes. Previously, the counties received an allotment of the statewide uniform 10.25% accommodations tax rate, but that ended. Instead, each county had to add its own 3% surcharge to that existing statewide tax. Those taxes are plus an additional 4.17% GST on Maui and 4.712% GST elsewhere in Hawaii. The combined tax on hotels and vacation rentals is approximately 18%.
It is worth noting that Hawaii residents and visitors pay the exact same taxes on accommodations.
Hawaii beach parking fees.
We recently reported that Maui is implemented a paid beach parking system for visitors with possible rates of up to $30. The other islands also have similar plans in the works. So it isn’t a question of if but of when and how much.
Hawaii state park visitor admission fees.
Of the 50 Hawaii parks in Hawaii, 10 already have visitor admission and parking fees (those are typically $5 per person and $10 per vehicle). That includes Hanauma State Park, where the entrance fee was increased to $25/person. Hawaii residents are exempt. Visitor admission fees will also come to all of the state parks. We don’t yet know when they will arrive at the other 40 parks, how they will be managed, and what the fees will be.
Airlines and airlines fees.
Except for most competitive routes, Hawaii airfares are going high and higher. Competition is shifting, and on most mainland routes it is now diminished. That became obvious when Southwest Hawaii flights were terminated on 10 routes. Airline fees are resuming too, and we recently got stuck with a huge airline change fee, as we reported.
Can you avoid being nickel-and-dimed in Hawaii?
One of the differences is that tourists are being asked to pay exorbitant rates for everything, plus different additional fees that residents don’t pay. While true in other countries, it is far less common in U.S. interstate travel. As we pointed out, however, everyone, including residents, pays the accommodation taxes.
Where do Hawaii taxes and fees go?
As you’ve pointed out, Hawaii has squandered most of its tax dollars in perpetuity. So we are left with ridiculously high rates and largely third-world tourism infrastructure. But sometimes, we see changes when admission fees are added. One case in point is Diamond Head. Before fees, hawkers ran rampant, tunnels and bunkers were not lit, and the trail needed work. All of that has been remedied, and a staircase added near the top to create an alternate route for visitors.