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Everyone needs to help care for the aina

The Sunday letter from Dr. Minkus (Forum, April 14, 2019), a frequent visitor to Kauai, was disappointing. He complained about the planned shuttle and fee to reach the Ke’e Beach area. The tone of the letter was one of privilege, “… it belongs to all of us …” the answer to parking there is “… to open more spaces …”

Then he closes the letter with a threat: “Alienate visitors, make them feel unwelcome … the economy of the island will suffer deeply.” He wants to continue “… to feel like honored … guests …”

Recently, there have been more than 100,000 visitors on the island per month! That is more than our total population. Tourism will find another place if the island facilities and beaches deteriorate and are overcrowded.

Tourism throughout the world is having the same overuse problem as Kauai. Many places are limiting access through ticketing, fees, and specific times for enjoying a tourist site. Think about the costs of heavy tourism (especially on a small island): use of water for drinking, bathing and flushing, sewage issues, use and disposal of plastic cups/utensils/water bottles/take-out containers, and the increase in garbage.

Paying a shuttle fee is a reasonable request to lessen the impact of too many cars and people at Ke‘e Beach. The fact that Hawaii beaches have to be accessible to the public does not mean unlimited, heavy usage without some controls.

Is it possible for visitors to truly feel responsible and cooperate in efforts to keep the tourism experience pleasant as well as make life livable for the local residents? I detected no interest in local people in his comments. In fact, he wants to feel like an “honored guest.” Well, it is time for visitors to feel part of the community and work together to keep it special.

I wonder what efforts Dr. Minkus has made to assist the North Shore residents and businesses recover? Did he donate to the food bank? To the Hawaii Community Foundation, which has donated so generously? If not, he should consider it.

Everyone should take care of the aina, locals and visitors.


Judith Fernandez is a resident of Kapaa.
Source: The Garden Island

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