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People on-line are saying it’s bad to visit Hawaii as a tourist….huh? (1 Viewer)

I do feel a sense of guilt when visiting Hawaii seeing how so much of the land has been bought up and (over?) developed by non-natives, leaving the natives to exist somewhat on the margins in a really expensive environment, while the tourists put a lot of strain on the local ecology. We assume they're better off due to the influx of tourism money, but I wonder sometimes.
We have been looking to buy there the past couple years. Plan is to AirBnB it, live there half the year when we retire and have a little somethin somethin to leave to the kid. Everything we found was a lease hold that runs out in 2050. Not really down paying 3M for something that evaporates in 30 years
 
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I do feel a sense of guilt when visiting Hawaii seeing how so much of the land has been bought up and (over?) developed by non-natives, leaving the natives to exist somewhat on the margins in a really expensive environment, while the tourists put a lot of strain on the local ecology. We assume they're better off due to the influx of tourism money, but I wonder sometimes.
I've been to Hawaii a ton of times - every year for a month through high school, then maybe 5-6 times since. I have family on both sides who live there, and my cousins went to school there. I know there are FBGs who actually live there, so they'd have much better insight.

Some thoughts about this:
  • The resentment has always been there. Around 1992, I was riding in a convertible with a family friend who had lived there for at least a decade when an Islander randomly yelled "Haole" and threw a milkshake into the car. I think it used to be more racial and has moved more toward tourists, but there's always been an undercurrent of tension. My cousins also encountered it when they were in school - there was more resistance to new students and also racial tensions.
  • Economically, I'm unclear on how great tourism is. Obviously it pays a lot of tax money to the state to spend back on the people, which is good. But the bulk of the payments go to the out-of-state owners of resorts, AirBnBs, and adventure companies. It's that familiar story recently of outsiders buying properties to make into AirBnBs that they never live at, which drives up the cost of properties. Great, right? Everyone's property value goes up... but it means that kids can't buy a house in their own state. They either stack up in their family's house or have to leave. Tourism jobs are great in a place that doesn't have any industry, but they don't pay for a house in that real estate market.
  • Some things have really gotten worse over time due to overtourism. Snorkel beach has so many people there are lines to get in the water, and you get kicked by fins as you enter and exit. I watched multiple people stand on coral while adjusting their masks while I was there - I'm sure it'd degrading the quality of a really cool place. Traffic has gotten really annoying in some places, and you can't arrive at Mauna Kea beach as late as 8:00 AM and find a parking spot - it wasn't that way long ago. Even if only 5% of the tourists are jerks like my dad who throw litter on the ground or breaks any other rule he doesn't think should stop him from doing what he wants, it builds up. Also, the internet has helped make everything public knowledge. The guide book mentions a great freshwater pond behind a beach, everyone goes there to rinse off after their time at the beach, and it doesn't take long before the pools are closed due to sunscreen pollution and interference by so many people. Locals-only beaches that my cousin used to take me to are now known by everyone and full of tourists.
Tourism is likely a net positive, but there are downsides.

It's not the only place this is happening (Tahoe is overcrowded and the lake is getting less clear due to road runoff), but such clear borders make it more stark.

I guess it's up to them as a state, though - if they want to find some way to limit the number of visitors, they'll help and harm themselves in a way that makes sense to them. That, or someone could just buy an entire island and close it off to tourists. But that could never happen :-)
 
I do feel a sense of guilt when visiting Hawaii seeing how so much of the land has been bought up and (over?) developed by non-natives, leaving the natives to exist somewhat on the margins in a really expensive environment, while the tourists put a lot of strain on the local ecology. We assume they're better off due to the influx of tourism money, but I wonder sometimes.
I've been to Hawaii a ton of times - every year for a month through high school, then maybe 5-6 times since. I have family on both sides who live there, and my cousins went to school there. I know there are FBGs who actually live there, so they'd have much better insight.

Some thoughts about this:
  • The resentment has always been there. Around 1992, I was riding in a convertible with a family friend who had lived there for at least a decade when an Islander randomly yelled "Haole" and threw a milkshake into the car. I think it used to be more racial and has moved more toward tourists, but there's always been an undercurrent of tension. My cousins also encountered it when they were in school - there was more resistance to new students and also racial tensions.
  • Economically, I'm unclear on how great tourism is. Obviously it pays a lot of tax money to the state to spend back on the people, which is good. But the bulk of the payments go to the out-of-state owners of resorts, AirBnBs, and adventure companies. It's that familiar story recently of outsiders buying properties to make into AirBnBs that they never live at, which drives up the cost of properties. Great, right? Everyone's property value goes up... but it means that kids can't buy a house in their own state. They either stack up in their family's house or have to leave. Tourism jobs are great in a place that doesn't have any industry, but they don't pay for a house in that real estate market.
  • Some things have really gotten worse over time due to overtourism. Snorkel beach has so many people there are lines to get in the water, and you get kicked by fins as you enter and exit. I watched multiple people stand on coral while adjusting their masks while I was there - I'm sure it'd degrading the quality of a really cool place. Traffic has gotten really annoying in some places, and you can't arrive at Mauna Kea beach as late as 8:00 AM and find a parking spot - it wasn't that way long ago. Even if only 5% of the tourists are jerks like my dad who throw litter on the ground or breaks any other rule he doesn't think should stop him from doing what he wants, it builds up. Also, the internet has helped make everything public knowledge. The guide book mentions a great freshwater pond behind a beach, everyone goes there to rinse off after their time at the beach, and it doesn't take long before the pools are closed due to sunscreen pollution and interference by so many people. Locals-only beaches that my cousin used to take me to are now known by everyone and full of tourists.
Tourism is likely a net positive, but there are downsides.

It's not the only place this is happening (Tahoe is overcrowded and the lake is getting less clear due to road runoff), but such clear borders make it more stark.

I guess it's up to them as a state, though - if they want to find some way to limit the number of visitors, they'll help and harm themselves in a way that makes sense to them. That, or someone could just buy an entire island and close it off to tourists. But that could never happen :-)

While you are spot on with your observations, I’ll also mention that I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 relatives living in Hawaii and probably 90% of those working have jobs that either are in the tourism industry, or benefit indirectly from tourism and development (e.g., construction). I’m not sure what the employment situation would look like without that industry.
 
This article says that tourist levels haven't yet reached pre-pandemic levels, so I dont know what to think. In fact, it says that while the number of people is down, spending is WAY up. Sounds like a good thing to me.

Agrusa said the number of visitors overall to Hawaii has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, in part because of the slow recovery of the key Japanese tourism market. But spending is “way, way, way up,” mainly by visitors from the continental U.S. who are throwing down big bucks to visit.
 
I do feel a sense of guilt when visiting Hawaii seeing how so much of the land has been bought up and (over?) developed by non-natives, leaving the natives to exist somewhat on the margins in a really expensive environment, while the tourists put a lot of strain on the local ecology. We assume they're better off due to the influx of tourism money, but I wonder sometimes.
Fair points, but have you checked out other islands in the middle of the Pacific? A lot are littered with abandoned military structures, and the populace has fallen prey to the American diet, such that obesity is rampant. Very few remain idyllic paradises, and our way of life has permeated many, even of we haven’t officially taken over.
 
and the populace has fallen prey to the American diet, such that obesity is rampant
Sorry about that.
Not sure what to make of your comment, but look up the most obese places in the world - many are in the Pacific, and their diets are heavily influenced by American processed foods.
I was apologizing on behalf of America. It was supposed to be a joke but guess it fell fat.
FYP
 
I do feel a sense of guilt when visiting Hawaii seeing how so much of the land has been bought up and (over?) developed by non-natives, leaving the natives to exist somewhat on the margins in a really expensive environment, while the tourists put a lot of strain on the local ecology. We assume they're better off due to the influx of tourism money, but I wonder sometimes.
Fair points, but have you checked out other islands in the middle of the Pacific? A lot are littered with abandoned military structures, and the populace has fallen prey to the American diet, such that obesity is rampant. Very few remain idyllic paradises, and our way of life has permeated many, even of we haven’t officially taken over.
I feel guilty about that too, and what's been done to American Indians over the centuries on the mainland as well.
 
I do feel a sense of guilt when visiting Hawaii seeing how so much of the land has been bought up and (over?) developed by non-natives, leaving the natives to exist somewhat on the margins in a really expensive environment, while the tourists put a lot of strain on the local ecology. We assume they're better off due to the influx of tourism money, but I wonder sometimes.
Fair points, but have you checked out other islands in the middle of the Pacific? A lot are littered with abandoned military structures, and the populace has fallen prey to the American diet, such that obesity is rampant. Very few remain idyllic paradises, and our way of life has permeated many, even of we haven’t officially taken over.
I feel guilty about that too, and what's been done to American Indians over the centuries on the mainland as well.
While it’s not cool to crush other cultures, I don’t feel guilty about it. Just about every civilization has decimated the one that preceded it. “Native” Hawaiians, for example, famously pushed their predecessors off cliffs when the islands were unified.

I don‘t feel bad Cook brought smallpox and other diseases to the islands, or Americans annexed Hawaii for business and military purposes. If they didn’t exploit the islands, somebody else would’ve. I personally played no role in their actions, and don’t think visiting/living here is causing net harm. We can certainly try to respect local traditions and preserve natural resources though.
 
I think a large problem stems from the fact that we as a society are horrible travelers/visitors. Here on the west coast, just look at the news stories of how places like Lake Tahoe are absolutely trashed after 4th of July weekend. People live and act like entitled slobs, especially so when on vacation.
 

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