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Survey: Hawaii residents believe tourism a net positive

Hawaii residents largely believe tourism is a net positive for the state despite its issues, according to a survey by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

HTA’s Spring 2021 Resident Sentiment Survey found that more than 75% of residents believe that tourism is “worth the issues associated with the industry,” given the $18 billion that visitors spent in Hawaii in 2019.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s massive impact to the visitor industry over the past year, that broadly positive sentiment does not appreciably differ from the results of HTA’s 2020 survey.

In the spring survey, residents between the ages of 18 and 32 were the most likely to have a negative opinion of tourism, with 30% of respondents in that age group believing tourism’s drawbacks outweigh its benefits. For the most part, the number of years spent living in the state was not a factor — although people who have lived in Hawaii less than one year were more likely to disapprove of tourism, only 19 out of 1,779 respondents fell into that demographic and were not statistically significant.

However, despite an overall acceptance of tourism, respondents were critical of more specific aspects of the industry. For example, the number of respondents agreeing with certain statements about tourism such as “tourism creates many well-paying jobs for residents” or “tourism enhances residents’ quality of life” has decreased since last year.

Furthermore, the majority of respondents on all islands do not believe enough effort is being made to balance the economic benefits of tourism and quality of life for residents, nor do they believe that any one island is managing tourism particularly well.

And while the vast majority of respondents believe that the state has a responsibility to educate visitors to malama the islands, the majority also believe that tourism neither helps preserve Native Hawaiian culture, nor presents it in an authentic manner.

For the most part, respondents on all islands responded similarly to each other. However, Big Island respondents appeared the most pro-development, with a greater percentage of respondents disagreeing with suggestions to stop the construction of additional hotels, condos or legal vacation rentals than any other island.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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