Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hawaii Hates Tourists

Not from what I heard!

"Agency to Hawaii residents: Don’t hate on tourists" by Audrey McAvoy Associated Press  April 26, 2016

HONOLULU — As a record number of visitors stream into Hawaii, state officials want residents to know: Tourism is your friend.

The agency that promotes travel to Hawaii is starting an online video campaign to remind locals about the benefits of the state’s biggest employer.

Leslie Dance, the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s vice president for marketing and product development, said people sometimes forget how important tourism is and start lamenting there are too many people around, particularly when business is good.

‘‘It’s just a tendency for people to start complaining,’’ Dance said. ‘‘And so the thing is, let’s remind everybody again.’’

How condescending!

But not everyone in Hawaii is on board.

Critics say the industry offers poorly paid jobs and exploits Hawaiian culture. But many complaints are about increased traffic and congestion.

The campaign comes as the state tries to maintain the momentum that brought a record 8.6 million travelers to Hawaii last year, the fourth-straight year of record-breaking visitor arrivals. Industry officials attribute the growth to an increase in flights and Hawaii’s enduring popularity with travelers.

Online review sites like Yelp are directing tourists to restaurants, hikes, and beaches in residential areas where travelers rarely ventured decades ago. Websites like Airbnb also allow more visitors to spend the night in neighborhoods instead of Waikiki hotels, even when most Oahu vacation rentals are illegal under county law.

Rena Risso, a 30-year-old who was born and raised in Kailua, understands the positive aspects of tourism, but she believes they’re outweighed by the negatives.

‘‘I think, as far as the local’s point of view, it’s humbug,’’ she said after an early morning walk. ‘‘I can’t even take my kids to the beach on a weekend because it’s so crazy.’’

The tourism agency should do more than promote ‘‘uncritical support for the growth of tourism,’’ said Jonathan Osorio, a professor of Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It should be required to consider the long-range effects of continued growth on Hawaii’s resources and society, he said.

‘‘The admonishment that we should take care of tourism because it’s a family business is a slick seduction that wants to avert the public’s attention from the industry’s abuses,’’ Osorio said in an e-mail.

Dance called the campaign an inexpensive, grass-roots way to have a conversation. The videos cost $18,000 each and are posted on the tourism authority’s YouTube channel.

The second clip shows Renee Kimura of Kimura Lauhala Shop discussing how tourists support the Big Island store her great-grandfather founded over a century ago.

People should be reminded of tourism’s benefits so they’ll treat visitors well and encourage them to come back, said Henry Maumalanga, a hotel security guard who lives in Honolulu.

‘‘A lot of tourists come here just because of the aloha spirit and all of that. They hear about all that kind of stuff,’’ he said. ‘‘And we got to show it.’’


I'm sorry, readers. I decided to go somewhere else.