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Destination Management Plan Committee meet virtually with residents

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i’s Destination Management Action Plan Committee members held an engaging virtual meeting Wednesday evening with residents of the South Shore and Westside of Kaua‘i and the island of Ni‘ihau.

The committee shared their ideas for solutions for a better tourist industry while listening to residents’ concerns.

By utilizing text polls and emails, Hawaii Tourism Authority moderator Miranda Foley engaged the viewers by getting their input on ideas for a better tourism industry where Kaua‘i people can feel safe and respected and tourists are educated on how to move around the island respectfully.

“I hope the community can take some time to share their input for the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Strategic Plan for Kaua‘i,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director of Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau. “We are looking at how best to reset our island’s tourism with HTA’s new focus of Malama Hawai‘i.”

Kanoho defined destination management as attracting and educating responsible visitors.

DMAP is advocating for solutions to overcrowded attractions, overtaxed infrastructure, and other tourism-related problems, and working with other responsible agencies to improve natural and cultural assets valued by both residents and visitors.

Resident resentment

Kanoho gave comparisons on the number of tourists who came last year compared to this year while determining what can be done to make the island safe and appealing to visitors.

According to Kanoho, the younger generation is known to only visit once, then they are ready to see a new destination, or there isn’t anything new or attractive to explore on Kaua‘i.

Kanoho also brought up the 2019 Kaua‘i “resident-sentiment-towards-tourism” poll.

In that poll, 76% of residents on Kaua‘i said tourists are creating traffic problems, and 67% of residents said there is no respect for the culture or ‘aina. Other problems caused by tourists include the cost of living, damage to the environment, and overcrowding the beaches or places locals go for recreation.

Pandemic’s effect

Last year, there were a total of 1,370,029 visitors who spent over $1.9 billion, with average spending of $1,393 per trip, staying an average length of seven days. The purpose of their trips was pleasure, said Kanoho.

Kanoho said there was a drastic drop of visitors arriving on Kaua‘i due to the pandemic. Year to date August 2020, Kaua‘i had 286,370 visitors compared to the same period last year, when Kaua‘i welcomed 945,726 visitors.

Because of the pandemic, ironically, Kanoho said that the average length of stay for visitors is longer probably because they had to quarantine for 14 days.

DMAP’s goals

DMAP’s ultimate goal is a mutually-satisfying experience in Hawai’i for both resident and visitors while maintaining and increasing Kaua‘i’s value and revenues.

The committee’s proposed anchor action plan consists of investing in Hawaiian cultural programs that enhance the visitor experience; promoting low-impact “green rides” to improve the visitor experience while reducing traffic, carbon monoxide emissions and the number of people impacting spaces each day.

Also, the DMAP committee wants to create a focus policy effort on appropriate behavior that will instill value in both visitors and residents for natural and cultural resources, collaborate with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop and implement policies to increase monitoring and enforcing efforts, promote “Shop Local” to visitors while reframing the brand to promote “regenerative tourism” through “ecotourism, voluntourism, and agritourism.”

Finally, DMAP committee wants to develop educational materials for visitors to have respect for Kaua‘i’s cultural values.

DMAP said they will meet in mid-November to review and finalize the proposed draft actions.

The community in encouraged to give their input at esurveyspro.com/s/466890/KauaiDMAP by Nov. 4.

To watch this meeting, residents can go to hawaiitourismauthority.org on and after Monday, Oct. 26.

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Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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