The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has entered into the planning and negotiation phase with the State of Hawaii and the County of Maui to develop the Overtourism Management Plan for Oahu. The Overtourism Management Plan will be developed in concert with the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the US Army Pacific. It is anticipated the MPO will develop the Oahu Overtourism Management Plan in conjunction with the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Oahu, Hawaii, will submit an overtourism management plan to the Hawaii Tourism Authority to minimize the negative impacts of overuse by visitors to Hawaii. The plan, which will be submitted at the HTA’s October meeting, will be modeled on one submitted to the state by Maui County.
Hawaii is a dream destination for people from all over the world. It has an array of beaches, beautiful natural landscapes and tropical hotspots to explore. But as the number of visitors to the island increases, the negative impact of over-tourism is becoming more apparent. The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is hosting a public meeting to discuss an overtourism management plan. The HTA is a state agency that promotes the islands as a destination for visitors from around the world. It is tasked with promoting the tourism industry in the state and to oversee the management of visitors to the islands.. Read more about honolulu and let us know what you think.
Now that Hawaii has lifted some restrictions and fully vaccinated travelers can even skip pre-travel testing, tourists from the mainland have descended upon the islands in volumes that are overwhelming infrastructure and causing residents to rise up in opposition.
With visitor arrivals on Maui already at pre-pandemic levels, airports at capacity, and local businesses struggling to meet the sudden demand after months of closure or limited operations, Mayor Mike Victorino recently made headlines by requesting that U.S. airlines limit passenger capacity to Hawaii voluntarily. This month, Maui enacted a new tourist tax to assist offset the effect of COVID-19 on the island’s damaged economy.
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Residents in Oahu, where the situation is similar—with tourist buses and leased vehicles clogging up roads, flooding beaches, swarming local hotspots, parking illegally, and generally disrespecting the island’s treasured natural environment—have had enough.
“People realized how wonderful it was not to have so many visitors during the pandemic,” said K.C. Connors, a member of the activist Facebook group ‘Enough Tourists Already.’
Furthermore, foreign arrivals are still limited in Hawaii, which has yet to completely reopen. If the islands are already failing to cope with present levels of overtourism, there are fears for what will happen when Hawaii’s borders reopen to the rest of the globe. “What will happen when the foreign tourists return if Oahu is already at capacity at this point of reopening?” Connors explained.
To address these issues, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has been working on the ‘Oahu Destination Management Action Plan’ in collaboration with the community and the City and County of Honolulu (Oahu DMAP). The HTA has been working on this plan for approximately five months, and it includes actions that the community, tourist industry, and other impacted sectors think should be taken to enhance Oahu’s tourism sector over the next three years. On July 29, it will be presented to an HTA board for a vote, with the plan expected to be disclosed to the public sometime in August.
“The public is expecting action, and our citizens are demanding action,” HTA Planning Director Caroline Anderson said. She pointed out that Oahu is the final island to enter the DMAP planning process, while the other major islands have already finished theirs. “On Oahu, the complaints were quite similar to the other islands—that ‘there are too many visitors,’” Anderson said.
Unfortunately, the state is unable to regulate visitor numbers, but Anderson said the HTA is working to determine what it and its partners can do to better control tourist traffic, particularly in high-traffic regions.
“HTA, under its current leadership, understands we need to shift. The industry impacts our residents’ way of life, wellness and the sustainability of our future,” said Joe Ibarra, general manager of The Kahala Hotel & Resort, who is also a member of the Oahu DMAP steering community. “This is the turning point.”
Oahu’s goal of having a realistic Overtourism Management Plan on the books by the start of the new year is imminent, according to Tourism Director Dennis Hynes.. Read more about hawaii tourism rebound and let us know what you think.
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