Hawaii’s long-awaited summer tourism crunch officially kicked off today with more traffic, all-sold-out activities, longer lines at restaurants and crowding on beaches as Hawaii braces for more than 10 million visitors a year, or nearly 8 times our population this year. As you’ll see in the graph from the state below, local arrivals track well ahead of all previous years. Domestic arrivals disproportionately affect neighboring islands which see fewer international visitors than Oahu.
Residents and visitors alike will be on guard until the slow season begins in mid-August. Both groups are preparing for the arrivals attack and whatever they may need to put up with. We like to think we’re all in this together, and we want to have the best situation possible for all of us.
And we keep asking, “Does Hawaii hate visitors?”
The simple and obvious answer is no because we are preparing to receive an unprecedented number of guests during the summer, while dealing, in many ways, with woefully insufficient resources. We join you in not wanting to see visitors or residents full of a small batch of rotten eggs. However, it is crowded, and possibly too busy given our limited capabilities, and there is a truth to the overly forward-looking and anticipating travelers that detract from the Hawaii travel experience, especially in the height of summer.
Speaking of how Hawaiians feel about tourism, last year the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) released a resident sentiment survey. “I found that while many are concerned with the growth of the visitor industry, the majority of Hawaiians believe tourism is worth the problems associated with this industry.”
One commenter said, “In many forums there seems to be an underlying resentment and hatred towards visitors, no matter how respectful we are. It really seems that many feel they have the right to price us at every turn (getting 5 pounds of meat) for a visit. It also seems that Some want to treat us like visitors to ‘Disney’ as this novel continues to be thrown around. Is this how Hawaiians really feel or are some ‘bad actors’ trying to scare the visitors?”
For you and me, let’s take a break during this ultimate summer of revenge travel in Hawaii.
There’s no doubt about it, we’re already seeing it even before the summer crunch officially starts today. In the next couple of months, we’ll see more traffic, congestion and frustration as Hawaii prepares to receive more than 10 million visitors annually, or nearly 8 times our population this year.
One reader had a solution to Kauai’s traffic, “The north-south route through the power line corridor will never happen, but what about a bike path? How about a tram? … transporting tourists from Po’ipu to Ha’ena without crossing the ocean “. what do you think?
Where we see the frustration of over-tourism in Hawaii.
- Traffic jam. It takes some time to cross from one side of the island to the other with the number of cars. You’ll notice it on all the islands, but to us, it’s most noticeable in Honolulu traffic, Maui traffic, and Kauai traffic. Have you tried driving from Kahului Airport to Kaanapali recently? oh my. Even during rush hours there can be traffic jams. During the summer, you will need to allow more time to reach your destination without sharing.
- A shortage of workers still exists exacerbating the problems of over-tourism. Definitely Catch 22. We have enough visitors to fill the restaurants and activities, but not enough staff to serve them. This can result in long wait times with sometimes reduced hours, or seeing a “sold out” sign. With the hospitality industry still understaffed, along with busy roads and 90-minute wait times at restaurants that aren’t rare when you can get in, locals and visitors easily get frustrated.
- No respect for Hawaii. Whether it’s trespassing or touching a monk seal. These stand out and are worrisome.
- Lack of understanding of Hawaii issues. Returning visitors know that Hawaii operates differently than the mainland. What words on the mainland may not be here. Part of coming to Hawaii is respecting the local culture and ways.
- Since the resumption of travel to Hawaii, we have noticed a significant difference in the behavior of some visitors. Although they were in the minority, there seemed to be more reckless visitors, something that was extremely rare.
Ease of access to Hawaii turned out to be its enemy.
No doubt, Hawaii is easy to get to. This is part of the problem and the attraction. Today there is good news about international travel with the lifting of Covid testing requirements for those of us who travel internationally. However, 2022 is the summer of Hawaii travel, and domestic travel in general, more than international travel. Next year could look very different.
The official arrival numbers from HTA will be slow, but when that happens, we’ll reflect that this has been all summer here in Hawaii.
How you can help while on vacation in Hawaii.
- We still say this, but sometimes it falls on deaf ears. Whenever possible, delay your summer vacation in Hawaii until late summer (mid-August) or later. Choose to come when overtourism and all its problems are no longer a big deal.
- Let’s all treat each other kindly, even if it’s easier said than done. When you visit us here, we want to share Aloha with you. We ask for your help in respecting Hawaii and its residents, and in protecting us all today and for generations to come.
Hawaii remains one of the most popular and in-demand vacation destinations worldwide.
From the state, our local arrivals are well on their way to surpassing all previous records.
Please share your thoughts on the situation this summer in Hawaii.