HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A “perfect storm”.
This is how the governor describes the massive influx of visitors to the islands – an increase he attributes to pent-up demand and fewer destination options open to domestic travelers.
On Tuesday, about 32,000 people arrived in the islands, which is at the level of tourism before the pandemic.
This number will come as no surprise to most Oahu residents.
Waikiki is teeming with vacationing visitors, basking in paradise and taking up virtually every inch of sand. And restaurants, hotels and popular places are overflowing.
The situation prompts some to call for change.
Bruce Fisher, who runs Hawaii Aloha Travel, said many travelers to Hawaii come to the islands on a budget – looking for a quick getaway and may rub residents the wrong way.
“We attract visitors who really don’t understand what’s going on here in terms of our destination. They are not educated, ”he said.
He worries about negative perceptions.
“They expect the same activities to be open, the same restaurants open, just as they did before the pandemic,” Fisher said.
Groups calling for more “sustainable” tourism plan to make their voices heard on July 4 by traveling to all airports in the state.
“The airport is basically a funnel for our problems,” said Daniel Anthony of Hui Aloha Aina Momona.
“The 30,000 people who come here every day have no idea what they’re coming from and don’t really care to listen.
Meanwhile, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said he had asked airlines to voluntarily reduce the number of planes to Hawaii after seeing tourists flooding Kahului Airport.
“We’re just asking for a break if you want to use that term. We don’t have the power to say stop, but we ask the powers that be to help us, ”said Victorino.
“I just got back from Oahu and it’s overcapacity. There are people wall to wall, ”he added.
Governor David Ige told Hawaii News Now this week that he spoke to the FAA and confirmed that the state cannot restrict planes.
“We are at 120% of the pre-pandemic seats coming from North America to Hawaii,” he added.
He sympathizes with Victorino’s approach, but adds that the bubble will burst. He expects visitor levels to return to normal after the summer.
The governor also said he was relying on the Hawaii Tourism Authority to focus on better management and that the state was trying to crack down on illegal vacation rentals.
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