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.