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UHERO State Forecast Update: Ready or not, Hawaii is set for more growth

Now in its ninth year, Hawaii’s expansion shows no signs of letting up. Tourism has surged again in the first part of 2018, extending one of the longest periods of sustained visitor growth. Construction, while volatile month to month, also remains on a high plateau. The long run of strong demand has created very tight labor markets, and it has imposed burdens on infrastructure and some communities. These constraints will slow, but not stop, growth over the next few years.

This analysis and near-term forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Rethinking Hawaii Tourism: Time to Shift from Marketing to Managing Tourism?

We know from Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) resident surveys that Hawaii residents perceive tourism is our economic lifeline, but it is also a cause of significant number of problems in our lives. Even though most respondents still think tourism brings more benefits than costs to our state, the percent of those who think otherwise has been rising for some time. That perception is supported by Paul Brewbaker’s presentation today. Paul’s main point (backed by striking charts) is that tourism’s economic benefits have not risen while its negative social costs to residents have been rising steadily. I made the same observation in my UHERO Brief, “Sustainable Tourism Development and Overtourism,” November 15, 2017. As tourism continues to set “records”, according to HTA, the negative social costs of tourism will become more burdensome relative to tourism’s benefits.

This brief was prepared for the Hawaii Economic Association panel, Rethinking Hawaii Tourism: 21st Century Solutions for 21st Century Challenges, with Frank Haas, Paul Brewbaker and John Knox.

Revised: Posted May 16, 2018

UHERO Brief

 


Making Sense of Mandatory Resort Fees

More than 1,000 hotels in the U.S. require guests to pay a mandatory resort fee, stated as a fixed dollar amount per room per night of occupancy, in addition to the base room rate. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), approximately 7% of U.S. hotels charge resort fees. Resort fees cover such services as parking, phone calls, in-room Wifi, daily bottled water, coffee maker, health club access, and so on. Included services vary from hotel to hotel. Hotels still include some services such as housekeeping, basic toiletries and television in their base room rate. By making the resort fee mandatory, a resort-fee hotel is bundling some services with the room but is disclosing a separate fee. The average resort fee in the U.S. is around $21. Resort fees generate about $2.7 billion in annual revenues to domestic hotels. The number of resort fee hotels and resort fee revenues in the U.S. are increasing rapidly.

UHERO Brief

 


Time to End the Preferential Taxation of Timeshare Occupancy?

Timeshares comprise a significant percentage of visitor accommodations in Hawaii. There are currently over 11,000 timeshare units in the state, and unlike traditional hotel accommodations, their number keeps growing. Timeshare visitors represented almost 10% of all visitor arrivals in Hawaii during the third quarter of 2017. In Hawaii timeshare owners are required to pay an occupancy tax to the State. State lawmakers want to increase the amount timeshare owners pay.

UHERO Brief

 


A linked land-sea modeling framework to inform ridge-to-reef management in high oceanic islands

Declining natural resources have led to a cultural renaissance across the Pacific that seeks to revive customary ridge-to-reef management approaches to protect freshwater and restore abundant coral reef fisheries. Effective ridge-to-reef management requires improved understanding of land-sea linkages and decision-support tools to simultaneously evaluate the effects of terrestrial and marine drivers on coral reefs, mediated by anthropogenic activities. Although a few applications have linked the effects of land cover to coral reefs, these are too coarse in resolution to inform watershed-scale management for Pacific Islands. To address this gap, we developed a novel linked land-sea modeling framework based on local data, which coupled groundwater and coral reef models at fine spatial resolution, to determine the effects of terrestrial drivers (groundwater and nutrients), mediated by human activities (land cover/use), and marine drivers (waves, geography, and habitat) on coral reefs. We applied this framework in two ‘ridge-to-reef’ systems (Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu) subject to different natural disturbance regimes, located in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Our results indicated that coral reefs in Ka‘ūpūlehu are coral-dominated with many grazers and scrapers due to low rainfall and wave power. While coral reefs in Hā‘ena are dominated by crustose coralline algae with many grazers and less scrapers due to high rainfall and wave power. In general, Ka‘ūpūlehu is more vulnerable to land-based nutrients and coral bleaching than Hā‘ena due to high coral cover and limited dilution and mixing from low rainfall and wave power. However, the shallow and wave sheltered back-reef areas of Hā‘ena, which support high coral cover and act as nursery habitat for fishes, are also vulnerable to land-based nutrients and coral bleaching. Anthropogenic sources of nutrients located upstream from these vulnerable areas are relevant locations for nutrient mitigation, such as cesspool upgrades. In this study, we located coral reefs vulnerable to land-based nutrients and linked them to priority areas to manage sources of human-derived nutrients, thereby demonstrating how this framework can inform place-based ridge-to-reef management.

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UHERO State Forecast Update: Not much lift from tax cuts in Hawaii’s soaring economy

Hawaii’s economy continues to grow, but with expected slowing as the cycle matures. Tourism is booming, construction remains on a healthy plateau, and jobs are plentiful. The big story this quarter is the federal tax cuts that went into effect on January 1. These will provide a modest boost for Hawaii families, who have seen little income growth in the expansion so far. Tightness in tourism and labor markets will limit the overall effect on the State’s economy.

This analysis and near-term forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Bringing multiple values to the table: assessing future land-use and climate change in North Kona, Hawaiʻi

As ecosystem service assessments increasingly contribute to decisions about managing Earth’s lands and waters, there is a growing need to understand the diverse ways that people use and value landscapes. However, these assessments rarely incorporate the value of landscapes to communities with strong cultural and generational ties to place, precluding inclusion of these values—alongside others—into planning processes. We developed a process to evaluate trade-offs and synergies in ecosystem services across land-use scenarios and under climate change in North Kona, Hawaiʻi, a tropical dry ecosystem where water, fire, biodiversity, and cultural values are all critical considerations for land management decisions. Specifically, we combined participatory deliberative methods, ecosystem service models, vegetation surveys, and document analysis to evaluate how cultural services, regulating services (groundwater recharge, landscape flammability reduction), biodiversity, and revenue: (1) vary across four land-use scenarios (pasture, coffee, agroforestry, and native forest restoration) and (2) are expected to vary with climate change (representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 mid-century scenario). The native forest restoration scenario provided high cultural, biodiversity, and ecosystem service value, whereas coffee's strongest benefit was monetary return. The agroforestry scenario offered the greatest potential in terms of maximizing multiple services. Pasture had relatively low ecological and economic value but, as with native forest and agroforestry, held high value in terms of local knowledge and cultural connection to place. Climate change amplified existing vulnerabilities for groundwater recharge and landscape flammability, but resulted in few shifts in the ranking of land-use scenarios. Our results demonstrate that cultural services need not be sacrificed at the expense of other management objectives if they are deliberately included in land-use planning from the start. Meaningfully representing what matters most to diverse groups of people, now and under a changing climate, requires greater integration of participatory methods into ecosystem service analyses.

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Determinants of Residential Solar Photovoltaic Adoption

Hawaii is a leader in distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) adoption. It has the highest rate of PV-based electricity penetration in the U.S. and rivals global front runners. The policy impetus towards large-scale adoption of renewable energy comes from the Renewable Portfolio Standard, with a target of 40% net electricity sales from renewable sources by the year 2030 and 100% by 2045. Rooftop PV provides the largest share of renewable energy in Hawaii’s electricity generation portfolio. This study analyzes demographic factors related to residential PV system adoption in Hawaii. It provides an econometric analysis, augmented by maps, to better understand the demographic characteristics of households adopting PV systems. Understanding drivers of past uptake is important to gaining insight into future trends, particularly as Hawaii continues towards its 2045 RPS goal.

Working Paper


The Conversation: Aida Arik on Home Solar Batteries

Posted January 22, 2018 | Categories: Media, Arik, Aida

UHERO graduate student Aida Arik joins The Conversation to discuss potential household savings related to timing of investment in a solar PV plus battery system on Oahu

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The Conversation: Carl Bonham on Hawaii's economic outlook

Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about the future of Hawaii's economy.

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Annual Hawaii Forecast with Asia-Pacific Outlook: Hawaii’s Long Expansion Gets Global Economic Lift

Improving global conditions provide a favorable environment for continued expansion in the Islands. Visitor arrivals are surging to record highs, and unemployment is reaching new lows. While families are benefitting from the improved employment prospects, many have yet to see significant income growth. The expansion is now well into its eighth year, and all indications are that growth will continue, if at a more subdued pace.

This executive summary is provided as a service to the public. For a complete analysis and detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO’s Forecast Project.

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Residential Battery Systems and the Best Time to Invest A case study of Hawaii

Battery storage is a complementary technology to intermittent renewable energy sources. In particular, it pairs well with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to capture excess solar generation during daylight hours and to draw energy from it when needed. Technological advancements and rapidly declining costs have made batteries more economically feasible for households, especially in the state of Hawai‘i, which faces the highest cost of electricity in the U.S. With the sunset of net energy metering (NEM) in 2015, and technical limitations from interconnecting additional PV systems capable of exporting energy to the grid, non-exportable PV systems are increasingly a viable option for residential customers in Hawai‘i. This paper analyzes whether the installation of a PV plus battery system is economically compensatory for households on Oahu, with the power grid as a back-up option. Given the importance of state and federal tax incentives in reducing capital costs, this paper compares household savings in the decision to invest now or later, given that the federal tax credit of 30% is set to decline in 2020 and expire by 2022. Installing a PV plus battery system in 2019 could increase net savings by 17-32% in Oahu compared to installing the same system in 2017.

Working Paper


Governing Green Power: Realigning Institutions To Fit New Technologies

The “Governing Green Power” conference was held in Honolulu at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, March 28-30, 2017. The motivation for the conference was the recognition that energy technologies are changing faster than energy-related institutions — the organizational structures, market mechanisms, and regulatory incentives that govern power generation, transmission, distribution and storage. The complex system of the future that many of us envision — what some call Utility 2.0 — will require a carefully balanced infrastructure, dynamic price setting, and sophisticated automated control systems. How can this vision be achieved? How do the institutions that govern the electricity sector need to change to ensure that Utility 2.0 will be managed as fairly and efficiently as possible?

UHERO Report

 


Sustainable Tourism Development and Overtourism

Everyone agrees that tourism should be developed in a sustainable way. Yet, nearly 25 years after the term “sustainable tourism” became fashionable, sustainable tourism development remains elusive. Residents in many popular destinations around the world complain about being overwhelmed by too many tourists, or “overtourism”. The United Nations World Tourism Organization blames the problem on poor management, and not because of growing number of tourists. This brief report examines how some destinations are dealing with the problem of overtourism. The report also examines the growth of tourism in Hawaii since the late 1980s. While there are many problems in managing tourism growth in Hawaii in a sustainable way, the report concludes that Hawaii is not yet at the stage of overtourism.

UHERO Brief

 


A Scoping Study for Climate Action Planning in Kauaʻi

This report documents best practices for county-level climate action plans (CAPs), with considerations for Kaua‘i. A CAP is primarily a process by which a jurisdiction agrees upon greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies and policies. This report is based on the gathering of studies and protocols addressing climate action planning and GHG mitigation best practices.

UHERO Report

 


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