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But a few weeks ago, when he showed up at Waikiki, it was too crowded to surf. The year-old said it was "maddening" how many people were there — with most disregarding Hawaii's public safety restrictions. Kapahua's experience of tourists on the shores of Waikiki Beach represents the larger surge of tourists entering Hawaii. From April 3 to April 8, more than 23, people arrived in Hawaii every day, according to state travel data. Arrivals peaked on Saturday, April 3, when nearly 29, people stepped foot onto one of Hawaii's eight major islands, approaching pre-pandemic tourism levels.
On Friday, the CDC announced fully vaccinated people can travel domestically. Although Hawaii hasn't adjusted its protocol for vaccinated travelers, the state is already seeing an increase in travelers. Native Hawaiians told Insider they fear incoming travelers will cause coronavirus cases to rise and urged travelers not to visit during a pandemic. Others emphasized deep-rooted issues in Hawaii's tourism industry, and they hope travelers will permanently remove Hawaii from their bucket list. Camille Slagle has watched the coronavirus disproportionately affect her family, friends, and community.
Slagle, a Native Hawaiian from Kailua on Hawaii's Oahu island, has watched other Native Hawaiians fill essential jobs across the state. She says many in her community have been worried about spreading the virus at home, especially in houses filled with multiple generations. They're also some of the least vaccinated populations. As of March 16, 8. But the virus does still exist, and in parts of Hawaii, it's getting worse. Daily new case reports have doubled since late February, and Slagle said she fears CDC's announcement for vaccinated travelers will make things worse.
Meanwhile, tourism plays an enormous role in Hawaii's economy. InHawaii welcomed more than 10 million visitorsand tourism became the state's largest source of private capital for Hawaii's economy. Last October, Governor David Ige launched a pre-travel testing program to encourage travelers to visit. The program allowed visitors to skip the day mandatory quarantine if they brought a negative coronavirus test.
Around the same time, a temporary residency program, known as " Movers and Shakas ," launched, and tourism companies enticed visitors with travel incentives and resort bubbles. But the majority of Hawaii's residents didn't want to welcome back visitors, according to a survey published by the Hawaii Tourism Authority in November.
Tippe Morlan, a Kama'aina, or local resident from Kapolei in Oahu, said no one she knows is happy about the influx of tourists. Morlan attributed those feelings to tourists who behave poorly, whether that's by not wearing masksbreaking mandatory quarantinesor not social distancing. Slagle said that marketing Hawaii as a "paradise" and an "escape from daily life" during a pandemic has opened her eyes to Hawaii's problematic tourism industry — an industry that Slagle and Kapahua said has been problematic long before the pandemic. An image that commodifies Hawaiian culture and hides its colonialist past, Seto-Myers, a year-old Native Hawaiian from Kailua in Oahu, told Insider.
Locals said their communities rarely benefit from the tourism sector. Native Hawaiians often fill lower-paying service jobsand many Hawaiians have one or more jobs to survive the state's high cost of living. Meanwhile, overcrowding has harmed their historical landmarks and disrupted fragile ecosystems. Kapahua said that for some, the ongoing pandemic has increased awareness around the issues of tourism in Hawaii. Slagle said many Americans from the lower 48 states feel entitled to visit, but they rarely take the time to learn the state's history.
Seto-Myers, Kapahua, and Slagle urged people — vaccinated or not — to stop traveling to the state while the pandemic is ongoing. As the New York Times reportedHawaii's residents' thoughts on tourism typically fall into three : "absolutists," who want Dont want to be a Honolulu1 anymore to end; the status quo group who believes "tourism should remain the lifeblood of the economy;" and "the compromisers," or people that think "tourism can and should exist in concert with other sectors like farming, retail, health care, and culture.
Kapahua wants people to stop traveling to his home. He said he doesn't believe there's a way to ethically visit Hawaii in today's structure. Seto-Meyers agreed but acknowledged that it's an idealist mindset. While Morlan wishes the state didn't have to rely on tourism so heavily, she said she believes that tourism isn't inherently bad. But she said tourists need to show respect, follow rules, and understand the communities' sentiments toward tourists before booking a trip. Slagle stressed that if you do decide to visit Hawaii post-pandemic, research and learn about Hawaii's history.
World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Get the Insider App. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation. Monica Humphries. Hawaii is experiencing a surge in travel as visitors flock to the state's popular islands. Many locals shared the message: "Don't come here in a pandemic.
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