Can Hawaii visitors and locals get along? Read our thoughts below for both groups and please add your thoughts to the discussion.
We know that all visitors aren’t entitled. And neither do all residents vilify visitors. But the most outspoken on both sides would definitely lead you to think otherwise. Reader Joy pleaded, “…we are not entitled. But we feel we may be treated that way by people who dislike tourists.”
Regarding exampes of the extreme, we’re reminded again of Native Hawaiian Lily Hi’ilani Okimura, the Oahu resident with 97,00 TikTok followers who vociferously demands that visitors not come to Hawaii. And then there’s the recent visitor who was trespassing at Akaka Falls, nearly died, endangered the life of the person who saved them, and then didn’t even have the courtesy to say thank you. Or the viral videos of trespassing at the controversial Haiku Stairs.
Absurd costs, visitor fees, travel issues, plus bad press, and online toxicity collide.
It’s just hard to catch a break for any of us right now. So here are a few thoughts.
1. First, just what went wrong with the long-standing idea of being able to escape to Hawaii for a few days or a week, anyway. And who doesn’t need that kind of relief right about now.
1. The world changed with Covid, and there’s no signs it’s ever returning to normal. Travel, in some ways, seems to exemplify the change. The differences, for the worse, are palpable here in the islands. The dreaded term “revenge travel” is seen as an attitude of entitlement by some. While it isn’t new, and doesn’t represent a majority for sure, it’s far worse than before.
2. Even though most visitors do care about Hawaii, and in part that’s why the islands have among the highest return visitor rates anywhere, the positive has become less apparent next to the negative.
3. Visitors wish to enjoy Hawaii’s weather, the water, and our lifestyle and culture. And they do benefit residents financially, no matter what’s said to the contrary.
4. With no replacement for tourism on the horizon, a shift in attitudes is essential. Hawaii has done absolutely nothing to change its reliance on travel, and it appears the state never will. Talk to the contrary is hot air.
Suggestions for visitors.
Lower your expectations. What more needs to be said. Realize that the world and Hawaii just don’t operate as well as they did before. But don’t let that ruin your Hawaii travel experience, or that of your hosts.
Please “malama” take care of Hawaii. That means don’t harm the environment, wildlife or the residents. Acknowledge that Hawaii is overrun with tourism, and please be respectful of that. It’s not a joke. Think of that when considering where to park, for example.
Experience Aloha when you visit here; and it starts with you. Give what you’d like to receive, and be in for a pleasant surprise in return.
Help contribute to the feeling of symbiosis between visitors and residents. Don’t complain and pout that you aren’t coming back. We’ve heard it enough, and it just doesn’t matter. Choose to have a good time instead! It’s within your ability, after all.
Suggestions for residents.
We acknowledge there’s a true discontent among residents with the unmanageable aspects of Hawaii tourism. It’ll take a concerted effort to find workable ways to mitigate those issues, including the sheer number of visitors, their impacts on daily life and on the environment, and the lack of appropriate infrastructure that supports us all.
There’s the realization that our own awareness of tourism’s impact changed on a dime after Covid, and the whiplash of an unexpected tourism rebound that followed. Yet studies continue to show that residents’ perception of tourism is relatively high. Most recently, the average ranking was 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.
No one can speak for Hawaii, be it here, on TicTok, or on Facebook. We have a wide range of viewpoints on tourism, the industry which impacts everyone’s life. And not everyone wants to throw the baby out with the bath water. In other words, to let go of something valuable.
We hope that Hawaii continues to express its Aloha to visitors in its unique ways. Most people here want visitors to enjoy Hawaii while appreciating those things that we love too.