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Survey: A majority of Hawai’i residents believe ‘tourism is worth the issues associated with the industry’


By Web Staff

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — A recent survey released by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) this week shows more than 75 percent of Hawai’i residents questioned agree tourism is “worth the issues associated with the industry.”

Of the nearly 400 Maui residents who were surveyed, 70 percent said the benefits of tourism outweigh its downfalls. Many other residents, however, feel the exact opposite.

“It’s getting crazy over here,” long-time Maui resident Sasha Lewis said when asked about the soaring number of visitors flocking to the island.

Maui County Councilmember Kelly King said Maui’s tourist arrival totals are on track to match and potentially exceed that of 2019 when the island saw a record of more than 3 million visitors, according to the HTA.

“Every day it is so crazy busy,” Lewis added.

“It takes twice as long to get anywhere, you can’t go to restaurants, you can’t do anything you would normally want to do with your family.”

To address what many residents call “overtourism,” Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said he is in talks with airline executives to limit the number of flights to Kahului Airport.

During a virtual press conference Friday afternoon, Victorino also called for a publicity campaign asking tourists to behave respectfully. Lewis supports the idea because she said she often sees visitors disrespecting locals.

“It’s as if they belong here and it’s some type of big Disneyland and it’s up to the rest of us to see that they have these wonderful vacations,” Lewis said.

Javier Barberi, the owner of Down the Hatch restaurant in Lahaina, agreed the surge of visitors on Maui has been overwhelming.

“Parking lots are more full and beaches are more full,” Barberi said.

Rather than complaining about the influx of tourists, Barberi said he is thankful.

“We just went through the toughest year of our lives, not knowing if we were going to be able to make it. For our business, it’s (tourism) a blessing,” Barberi added.

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