Remember when people were talking about taking this opportunity to rethink tourism?
Yeah, I said it too. That idea turned out to be so naive as to be laughable.
The thought of scaling down tourism to a manageable level that will restore calm to neighborhoods, sanity to roads and access to beaches assumes that tourism is under Hawaii’s control. It clearly is not.
There has been no slow reopening to tourism. It’s been more like a dam of pent-up demand breaking and flooding all the quiet surf spots and uncrowded trails. All of a sudden, Maui beaches are overrun, rental cars are hard to come by and swarms of tourists are queueing up to buy cartloads of groceries in neighborhood markets to stock the kitchens of their vacation rentals.
There didn’t need to be a marketing campaign. There didn’t need to be special deals on airfare-and-hotel room packages. There didn’t need to be trade shows. Turns out there’s an insatiable thirst for Hawaii and nobody has to be convinced to come here. Despite the hit the American economy took during the pandemic, people still have the money to fly across the ocean, buy margarita mix at Foodland and spread out their beach chairs on the sand at Kaanapali.
Controlling, managing, or resetting tourism is about as possible as resetting Kilauea volcano. Sure, would be nice to train the lava to erupt on a schedule and only…