Danny De Gracia: Hawaii is falling apart. Let’s pay tourism to fix the problem



Years ago an alcoholic friend explained to me that her hangover cheating was what she called “the hair of the dog that bit you,” where you drink whatever is responsible for your current hangover prepare to face the day ahead.

The tradition comes from the poetry of John Heywoodwho commemorated a wild night with a companion by declaring: “A hair of the dog that bit us last night; and we were both bitten in the brain, right. “

Hawaii‘s approach to tourism has brutally “bitten” the locals over the years, possibly responsible for ushering the Covid-19 pandemic on our coasts, not to mention ravaging our already strained infrastructure, disregarding local norms and the residents upset with inconvenience caused by overcrowding of the visitors.

We barely shook off the current hangover from the last onslaught of visitors – one that the locals had at its peak wild amygdala attacks over visitors who block roads, rental cars are expensive at higher daily rates than some people earn in a month, and Covid clusters erupting all over the islands – and now our guides are itching again for a ripe opportunity to put the “e komo mai” sign for global tourists on our doorstep.

Of course, the public is being told that visitor management will now be a matter of responsibly and sustainably running tourism that benefits the Hawaiian economy, providing good jobs, respecting the host culture by providing educational videos, and protecting the surrounding area.

Phew! What a doozy. Not to be a cynic, but believe me, whenever the local government tells you that there is a “plan” to do better, you know best that there is nothing but a pepper shaker that comes with focus group tested Filled with PR buzzwords, sprinkle steaming piles of hideous results of poop-poop politics.

Tourism has to give us something tangible

Whenever the government steps in to use the private sector scales to pick winners and losers, the ideological justification for this is usually that some services are more useful to the public than others.

In return for this market manipulation, either the state or the subsidized industry should bring the common people something from which they benefit. Globally, this usually manifests itself in things like building public hospitals, schools, roads, producing clean water and clean energy, and so on.

in line to get through security
Last month the lines to go through security at Kahalui Airport in Maui were long. Tourism is quickly returning to Hawaii. Ludwig Laab / Civil Beat / 2021

But I challenge each of you to find and climb and climb the highest hill or mountain here on Oahu today look around and see what this place looks like. Does it look like this state is going forward or backward? Do you see the community evolving or declining?

Does this place look worth our tax dollars and all of our time and labor? Have the public trees been trimmed and even the grass cut lately? And what positive things has tourism given us that we can pass on to the next generation?

Aside from throttling tourists, visitor fees and forcing tourists to participate in visitor education, we have to make the tourism industry pay for the modernization and restoration of this state. Legislators and district councils across the state must compromise in order for tourism to be profitable for both locals and visitors.

Every single wave of tourism in recent times has messed up this state, and this place gets shabbier and worse maintained with every year that goes by.

Hawaii is falling apart and the locals alone will not be able to finance the future maintenance of this state through taxes and fees because they are not making enough money as it is. and visitors cause inflationary effects on our economy.

My personal fear is that if things get worse, between the mercenary-focused special interest groups and the elected officials who brought them to power, the entire fiscal weight of Hawaiian conservation will increasingly fall on the people who live here, and not of the people who are here to visit.

How much of it can we still take? I remember a warning from Benjamin Franklin, regarding America’s post-democratic future: “I believe this will likely be well administered for years and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before, when the people are corrupted as much as needing a despotic government, since she is not capable of any other. “

This is a bad place to be, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that as things stand, Hawaii isn’t ready for another round of tourism as our community barely survived the last one.

We need more than just future assurances from our government. We should get something for giving so many of these islands to others.

If the tourism industry is to continue to benefit from Hawaii, the tourism industry must upgrade Hawaii. As simple as that.


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