nickel-and-dimed to death | Hawaii visitors stagger
No matter how much money they may have, visitors don’t like the feeling of being nailed to death. Had we not heard those exact words countless times in your comments, it might not have caught our attention the way it has right now. Here are some examples. Let us know which comment you agree with the most.
Lori: I’d rather pay a fee than get nickeled and stomped at every park, beach, and attraction.
Steve: It seems the goal is not to welcome tourists, but to nickel and dip them for all sorts of things. With every trip I find more things that charge a fee, and while some are worthwhile, many are just a way for the state to raise money with little money being spent on improving the park or the area.
Lynn: Budget dictates where people can and will go. This can result in Hawaii losing money from visitors who choose not to go somewhere where they get nicked and paid for everything while on vacation.
Andy: Airlines nickel the travelers over and over again and they are unaware of the fact that they are notoriously hated.
Rita: As a frequent visitor…we already pay higher taxes for staying at Hawaii hotels/resorts…It seems like maybe visitors are being plated to death and not appreciated…Unless the goal of the Hawaiian government is to keep visitors away.
Barbara: I’d rather pay a “visitor’s fee” than pay bells and whistles every day when I want to visit a beach. I understand this concept of visitors participating in the maintenance of Kauai, but please don’t smack me on the head every day during my stay!
Jim: It doesn’t matter how rich you are. Nobody likes to be nickel and dimed.
Jen: We’ve loved traveling to Hawaii for years. But the taxes and fees are getting ridiculous. I feel like Hawaii is making it clear that tourism is not welcome. We usually spend a lot of money there. We don’t go cheap, we want to spend our money where we can go knowing we won’t be plated and dimmed.
Tony: What I think Kauai should avoid is that it looks like Disneyland’s money machine where every time you turn your back you put down more cash and feel like nickels and dimes to death… Where does $ go?
Tana: These islands seem to be nickel and diming tourists, and it’s getting really old and annoying. Hawaii is expensive to travel there and stay there, real people have to save and work extra to go there, all these fees will make the trip even more difficult.
Nickle and diming feels like the opposite of aloha.
It’s not just about how much you charge, but also the perception of the value of both the product being offered and the visitors who are the consumers. At every level, Hawaii clearly missed the boat in this area.
Hotel Prices and Resort Fees: How Does the Average Price of $1,600/Night Sound?
For the most recent state-reported month (see report below), Wailea hotels lead the median rate, charging a whopping $1,136 per night. Excluding taxes and fees, including resort fees. Overall, that averages out to about $1,600/night.
Lodging taxes: the highest in the country.
Lodging taxes for hotels and holiday homes have increased by 3% in the last year. The Hawaii legislature initiated these increases through HB 862. This measure came into force from last October. As a result, the state now has the highest combined lodging tax in the US.
The state parliament approved the lodging tax. Previously, counties received an allotment of the state’s uniform 10.25% lodging tax rate, but that ended. Instead, each county had to add its own 3% surcharge to this existing statewide tax. In addition to these taxes, there is an additional 4.17% GST in Maui and 4.712% GST in other parts of Hawaii. The combined tax on hotels and vacation rentals is approximately 18%.
It’s worth noting that Hawaii residents and visitors pay exactly the same taxes on lodging.
Beachfront Parking Fees in Hawaii.
We recently reported that Maui introduced a paid beach parking system for visitors with potential fees of up to $30. The other islands also have similar plans in the works. So it’s not a question of if, but when and how much.
Entrance fees for visitors to Hawaii State Park.
Of the 50 Hawaii parks in Hawaii, 10 already have visitor entrance and parking fees (these are typically $5 per person and $10 per vehicle). This includes Hanauma State Park, where admission has been increased to $25/person. Hawaii residents are exempt. Visitor entrance fees are also charged for all state parks. We don’t yet know when they will arrive at the other 40 parks, how they will be managed, and what the fees will be.
Airlines and Airline Fees.
Aside from the most competitive routes, airfares to Hawaii are only getting higher. Competition is shifting and has now decreased on most mainland routes. That became evident when flights to Southwest Hawaii were grounded on 10 routes. Airline fees are also resuming and we recently stalled with a huge airline change fee, as we reported.
Can You Avoid Being Nickel-and-Dimed in Hawaii?
One of the differences is that tourists have to pay exorbitant prices for everything, plus various additional fees that local residents do not pay. While it’s true in other countries, it’s far less common when it comes to interstate travel in the US. However, as we pointed out, everyone, including residents, pays the occupancy tax.
Where do taxes and fees go in Hawaii?
As you pointed out, Hawaii has wasted most of its tax dollars in the long run. That leaves us with ridiculously high rates and a largely third world tourism infrastructure. But sometimes we see changes when entry fees are added. A case in point is Diamond Head. Street vendors ran around in front of fees, tunnels and bunkers were not illuminated and the path had to be revised. All of this has been fixed and a stairway added near the top to create an alternate route for visitors.