Published on : Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Although Hawaii re-opened to tourists in October, a combination of spring break and pent-up travel fever made the airports come back to normalcy again. By mid-March, the number of arriving domestic passengers surpassed 2020’s weak levels by 400%.
Visitor increase is undoubtedly good for Hawaii’s hard-hit tourism economy. But is it similarly good for the Hawaiians? A year after the state’s borders were first closed due to Covid, many locals became accustomed to a new normal:
empty or not crowded beaches, free-moving traffic and cleaner air and water. In a recent poll, nearly half of Hawaiians said that tourists are no longer worth the trouble. Around the globe, other tourist-dependent economies are also accepting a life free from the hordes of visitors. Hence, it’s a global debate as to who exactly should benefit from tourism.
Hawaii isn’t quite ready to depopulate, but aggravation concerning tourism is something to think about. In 1959, the state had 243,000 tourists; in 1990, 7 million; in 2019, 10.4 million — compared to a mere 1.4 million locals. Influx of visitors invited notorious traffic bottlenecks with serious threats to the treasured ecological sites.
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