Hawaii & Alaska
Beachgoers enjoy the sun at Waikiki Beach during the Covid-19 pandemic. Honolulu officials want to restrict vacation rentals to Waikiki and other resort areas to control tourism.

HI - COMMENTARY: Honolulu May Not Lose Its Chance To Control Tourism After All

Restrictions on short-term rentals advance to the City Council amid growing efforts to build back the economy on tourism’s shaky ground.

The tourism industry is bugging Gov. David Ige to take back his request for travelers to stay away from the islands.

Owners of vacation rentals in Oahu’s residential areas are whining about attempts to close the loopholes that have allowed them to rake in money while grievously inconveniencing neighbors.

After a brief period of earnest public discussion about getting a handle on Hawaii’s out-of-control visitor arrival numbers, the ravenous addiction to tourism money has once again taken hold.

The pandemic must be over if we’re back to arguing over bringing more and more tourists to the islands, right?

Daily Covid-19 case counts are ONLY in the 300’s now. JUST 193 Hawaii residents died last month as a result of Covid.

Yup. We’re just about pau.

Yikes.

Thus far during the pandemic, Hawaii has seen the tourism industry crumble to almost nothing, then start back up with the madness of incoming visitors promising to quarantine in their hotel rooms — a promise easily made, easily broken and nearly impossible to enforce.

Over this summer, it was as though floodgates were opened, and Hawaii had more tourists on each island than ever before. Tourists on Oahu were walking down Kalanianaole to Hanauma Bay because there weren’t enough rental cars.

It was madness. For some who make their money on tourists, it was better than their wildest dreams.

Thank goodness the Honolulu Planning Commission is serving as a voice of reason amid the clamoring for tourism. The pandemic offered a ripe opportunity to reclaim the parts of Hawaii that have been sold off to the almighty visitor industry and to restore a more sane and orderly lifestyle to those of us who live here. Despite discussions of right-sizing tourism’s impact earlier this summer, that opportunity looked like it might be squandered the moment visitor numbers dropped in the fall.

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