Tourists Head to Islands, State Leaders Hope for the Best

Tourists and locals are heading back to the beaches. But, getting the tourism comeback at the same time as balancing the needs of the community is turning out to be a challenge.

Tourists in Big Numbers

“However, the tourists are back and in larger numbers than we have seen in a very long while,” said State Senator Chris Lee of Windward Oahu. “Tour buses are dropping people off where they are not supposing to be,” he said. “In fact, beach parts are being crowded, overrun, parking in people’s neighborhoods that’s affecting their driveways.”

Penalties for Tour Companies – “Meaningful” Fines!

A week ago, Lee said he was sent an image. This was a tour van dropping off visitors in an undesignated drop-off area in a Kailua neighborhood. In fact, he said he is hoping his bill to increase the penalties from $1,000 to $5,000 dollars for tour companies that continuously violate the law will continue to move on in the legislature. “Those companies need to do right by the community,” Lee said. “In fact, we want to make sure those fines have meaning.”

Tourists are Moving up in Number

In fact, the amount of visitors arriving to Hawaii is on the rise. Though, Hawaii’s tourism levels are no where near in fact to pre-pandemic levels.

Average Daily Census

However, the average daily census the Hawaii Tourism Authority says shows that there were 90,776 in February comparing to 250,052 in February 2020.

Low Travel Numbers at the Start of COVID-19

At the beginning of the pandemic exactly one year ago, only 513 travelers flew into Hawaii. The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported close to 20,000 travelers on Wednesday. The manager of Island Treasures, Patty Felter, an art and retail fixture for years in the heart of Kailua, said they need more high-volume spending tourists because the business is seriously struggling to hang on. “Unsure, it’s not a very good feeling. The store still hasn’t returned to normal hours,” she said.

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