Danny De Gracia: Hawaii is collapsing. Let’s make tourism pay to fix it

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Years ago, an alcoholic friend of mine explained to me that her cheating to beat a hangover was a practice she called “the hair of the dog that bit you”, in which you drink whatever is responsible. from his current hangover to prepare for the day at hand.

The tradition dates back to the poetry of John Heywood, who commemorated a night of wild rejoicing with a companion by explaining: “A dog’s hair that bit us last night; and we were both brain bitten, okay.

Hawaii’s approach to tourism has savagely “bit” locals over the years, possibly responsible for bringing the Covid-19 pandemic to our shores, not to mention the havoc on our already infrastructure. strained, failure to comply with local standards and unrest of residents with inconvenience caused by overcrowding visitors.

We barely got over the current hangover of the latest wave of visitors – one that had, at its peak, locals having savage amygdala attacks on visitors blocking the roads, rental cars at higher daily rates. to those some people do in a month, and Covid clusters are popping up all over the islands – and now our leaders are again anxious to seize the opportunity to put the “e komo mai” sign for global tourists on our doorstep .

Of course, the public is being told that visitor management is now going to be one thing, where we are going to responsibly and sustainably engage in tourism that benefits Hawaii’s economy, provides good jobs, respects the culture of welcome through educational videos before landing and protect the environment.

Phew! What an idiot. I don’t mean to be cynical, but trust me, anytime the local government tells you that there is a ‘plan’ to improve everything, know that there is nothing more than a pepperbox laden with groups. talk tests, public relations buzzwords to sprinkle over smoldering piles of heinous poop political results.

Tourism must give us something tangible

Whenever the government steps in to get its hands on the scales of private industry to pick winners and losers, the ideological rationale behind this is usually to say that some services are more useful to the public than others.

In return for this market manipulation, the government or industry being promoted is supposed to provide ordinary citizens with something that benefits them. All over the world this is usually manifested in things like building public hospitals, schools, roads, producing clean water and energy, etc.

online to pass security
There were long lines to go through security at Kahalui Airport in Maui last month. Tourism is rapidly returning to Hawaii. Ludwig Laab / Civil Beat / 2021

But I challenge any of you to find and climb the tallest hill or mountain here in Oahu today and look around and see what this place looks like. Does this state seem to be going forward or backward? Do you see the community moving forward or backward?

Does this place seem worthy of our tax dollars and all of our time and work? Have public trees been pruned and has the grass even been cut recently? And what positive has tourism brought us that we can pass on to the next generation?

Beyond strangling tourists, visiting fees, and forcing tourists to participate in visitor education, we need to make the tourism industry pay for the modernization and restoration of this state. The state legislature and county councils must ensure that tourism is profitable for residents and visitors.

Each recent wave of tourism has left this state in shambles, and this place is getting more and more seedy and more and more poorly maintained with each passing year.

Hawaii is falling apart and the locals alone will not be able to fund the future maintenance of this state by paying taxes and fees because they do not make enough money in the state and visitors are causing inflationary effects on our economy.

My personal fear is that as things get worse, between the mercenary-minded interest groups and the elected officials they’ve put in power, the full fiscal weight of maintaining Hawaii falls more and more on the people who live here rather than the people who visit here.

How much more can we take? I remember a warning from Benjamin Franklin, looking at America’s post-democratic future: “I think it will probably be well administered for years to come and can only end in despotism, like other forms. have done so before. this, when the people become so corrupt that they will need one despotic government, being incapable of another.

This is a bad place we find ourselves in, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that as it is, Hawaii isn’t ready for another wave of tourism as our community has barely survived. to the last one.

We need more than just future assurances from our government. We should get something in return for giving up a large part of these islands to others.

If the tourism industry is to continue to profit from Hawaii, then the tourism industry must modernize Hawaii. It is that simple.


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kurt watkins

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