Let's Talk Tourism In Hawaii 2021



Pulled from the headlines! We discuss the issues around tourism in Hawaii coming off an intense year of the slingshot affect of folks deciding to travel to the Hawaiian Islands in droves in 2021 AND what is happening in Kailua Kona after the Governor asked visitors to hold off on travel through the end of October so we could get a handle on our COVID cases.

Here are some resources we used to discuss this topic:

Eric and Julie Ziemelis are lifestyle bloggers/vloggers and share their insight, thoughts and perspective about living on Hawaii Island. You can learn more about things we love, taste, visit, and support at www.365Kona.com and more about the lifestyle of living on the Islands full time at www.MoveToHawaii365.com

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40 comments

  1. Mahalo nui loa for your videos we are moving back to Kona after 15 years and enjoy catching up on the happenings. Is tourism returning to Kona. People shopping dining enjoying the local stuff is the economy picking up?
    Keep up the great job
    Kurt

  2. I live on Oahu and I fantasize about a stay at home order until 2022. It will never happen again. I loved the 2020 quarantine. Good times. Hawaii hasn't seen that kind of peace and quiet since before Captain Cooke landed in our shores.

  3. Hello to you guys ! Thank you for information. I m from Europe and living 30 years in the garden island 🏝of Kauai. I m vegetarian completely. No meat eating. I m sailor
    I sailed around the world ⛵🌎for seven years .Bext my voyage to around the world ⛵🌎 in 2022 July or August. I m living in Kilauea town ,and love coffee ☕shop Java Kai and bacary coffee ☕shop in Kilauea town. Thank you great video. Aloha to you guys

  4. Interesting about not being able to swim with the dolphins. I'm going to be coming to Kona in a couple weeks, and it just so happens that I've already pre-paid for a "snorkeling and swimming with dolphins" excursion. Would you say it would be wise to perhaps get a refund on that while I still can? Do you think they'll still be doing it early/mid October?

  5. Great video! Yep, I can tell you with first hand experience business tanked after Ige's announcement. I had the opportunity to call a few of my guests that cancelled and asked them what they were hearing on the mainland; and what I heard was a bit shocking.
    Remember when Kilauea erupted and the mainland news outlets were showing Oahu on fire? – it's kinda like that. Folks are hearing Hawaii is totally closed and don't want visitors. Weddings in November were being cancelled etc because of it.

    From a future reservation perspective, I can say that reservations and bookings for the winter holidays are full and we have started a waiting list already.
    Im expecting the corp companies to overbook (as they always do during busy times) and I think we'll have Carmeggon once again for christmas. The chip shortage is still a thing too.

    I admin the Hawaii Turo Facebook group and I can tell you that lots of locals went out to by cars for some extra cash, and people are selling cars like crazy now as they can't afford the payments with the decrease in tourism.
    Kinda a super bummer actually because Turo helps the locals with a much needed side-hustle for extra cash right now.

  6. You tell ‘em! Be respectful where you park plz don’t believe our aloha and sometimes meekness a sign of weakness. Take for example the Hawaiians in Hana, Maui, they lost their patience regarding the parking on that narrow road to Hana.
    How about the couple who disrespectfully touch the Monk seals and turtles, they need slaps with the court fine.
    We need to chose between economy and being medically safe- in Hawaii most of us chose health. This past two weekends I watched 2 Alabama and2Texas Longhorn games and not a single mask was seen, in Hawaii wear a mask it’s not like wearing burqa. Our Covid and hospital numbers are trending down-so please Kokua 🌺

  7. I love when people that live in Hawaii call themselves local? If you don't have Hawaiian blood you will never be local no matter how long you live in Hawaii. I've lived in Hawaii for 10 years and would never consider myself local.

  8. I know from my Canadian friends that there is more restriction for them and they usually come during this time because it’s their summer. Could that be it too?

  9. I've had issue's with a few of your older video's however I think you have been residents here long enough now that you are seeing things through the locals eyes. We need to take care of our Islands and its resources. Thank you for using this platform to discuss these concerns. Good job!!!

  10. Thank you both for sharing this information and I believe the tour buses and cruise ships are getting out of hand on all of the islands. I've lived here on BI for 30 years and my grandfather was born here BI and raised on Oahu along with my Mom… I just blows my mind to see the buses offloading tons of tourists and the cruise ships offloading tons of tourists ….so they can ?????

  11. Sure, let's have the state manage everybody's economic affairs… What could go wrong? Some people may not want to be educated on "the culture", but rather decide for themselves where to go and what to do on the hard earned holidays. Boy, you two are down the rabbit hole. Good luck in utopia.

  12. I booked Hawaii in Sep 1999 for July 2020, obviously had to cancel. Rebooked for 2021…UK banned from entry still so had to cancel. It came to time to rebook using the travel voucher for July 2022 and I then I hear the Governor saying please don't come…we had to get the flight voucher used, so we are now going to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in July 2022 (as along as unvaccinated children re allowed in). Hopefully, we will be welcome in 2023?

  13. We’re coming over towards the end of October for our wedding. This will be my 17th time to the Big Island, and I really appreciate your insight as to what is going on there. It definitely helps to have “feet on the ground” as it were. I’ve always hoped nothing but the best for the kama’aina, and as of late it seems that fine line you mentioned is being strained. Hopefully there will be a time again when all the Islands can be enjoyed by the locals and tourists once again. Hawaii is an absolutely beautiful and wonderful place, and I hold it dear to my heart. Aloha and mahalo!

  14. I need to weigh in. 3.5 million Americans retired in 2020 (a record) and 2.5 million will be retiring every year this decade. The demand for leisure travel will stay exceptionally strong.
    Supply and demand will raise prices. Oahu (specifically Honolulu) has an abundance of lower priced hotels, but the other 3 Islands will be as expensive as visiting the Caymans.
    Also, as anyone can see, inflation is everywhere. I last visited Maui and Oahu in late 2019/early 2020. The price of the private tours that I went on is up 35% in 2 years.
    As for government managed sites, some of the user fees were ridiculously cheap. ($1 to hike Diamond Head, now $5…. still less than a fancy drink Starbucks, $25 for Hanauma Bay is fair value as long as 100% of the funds go back to managing the ecology of the place…as much as that can be done?
    Just wait until the Aussies, Japanese and Canadians are back to travelling in full force.
    In summary, if your vacation budget is low, you better seek out alternative places.

  15. Yeah, I'd honestly guess that the type of tourist's you've had during Covid has had a great negative push. I've had family who lived there for 12 years and have spend months in Kona over the years and have always tried to be respectful to locals and the environment there.
    Unfortunately I've witnessed many ignorant and disrespectful types who are not treating this island paradise with the respect it deserves. I'm not sure you'll improve the quality of people by charging a lot more. Cruises should be limited IMO or banned because they are a net drag vs a family staying in a AirBnB and partaking in the full experience.

  16. Thanks for the informative video. We booked for October in early August when things looked pretty good, but a few days later the Gov made his plea not to come. Unfortunately, our condo will not let us change our dates within 90 days of arrival and of course, its non refundable, which we don't want. So ..we are fully vaccinated and have travel insurance, we are coming, we are not going to lose our rather large (!!) condo payment and will mask and stay away from crowds. Didn't know they cancelled Ironman, that would have been fun to see, but now the crowds should be pretty small. If the Governor doesn't want people to come, maybe he should be talking to property management companies about relaxing their change and cancellation policies. Travel insurance will only cover you if you get Covid! or any other health or accident that could cancel your plans, with proper documentation from a doctor. Being from Alaska, we get our fair share of tourists as well, its amazing the ignorance that some people exhibit. But also many absolutely love our state and are in awe as well. Our season is much shorter! Aloha!

  17. I had my first opportunity to go to the Big Island (first Hawaiian Island I’ve been to) last week and it was amazing. I didn’t realize how busy it gets as it was pretty empty during our visit. The hikes and food were great and everyone we met was extremely welcoming. We probably would not have come if we hadn’t booked before the advisory, but luckily we were vaccinated well in advance and we really appreciated the abundance of hand sanitizer and mask usage indoors.

    I can definitely see the difficulty of balancing a large influx of tourists within a limited area with the need to provide a steady flow of income in an isolated economy as well as quality of life to those who don’t rely on the tourist industry. It can’t be easy meeting the needs/wants of locals with differing priorities based on careers, income, lifestyle, etc.

  18. Always great information! Amazing how it went from super busy down to nothing so quick. I hope we find that happy medium soon.
    People may want to know where to donate their time or money when they visit. A Video about our local charities or places to donate their time would be great. Just an idea. Keep doing what you're doing. 🙂

  19. We have three Orca in the Puget Sound region, who are pregnant. Right now things are starting to open up, there are huge cruise ships and ferries making trips more often. I am hoping that those pregnancies and the babies will be healthy despite the increase in toxin and noise pollution and the threatening nature of motor crafts of all sizes. Three very pregnant Southern Residents, and with that thought I do sort of appreciate the shut down and sheltering for the environmental benefit. The environment did seem to enjoy our absence and inactivity. I just hope that this sudden increase doesn't effect the pregnancies. I'm sure Hawaii and all the popular beaches had some health infused into them while it was so quiet. It is sad to think that our pleasure and love for Hawaii is not healthy for the reefs and the inhabitants.

  20. Everything is crazy so I will wait to visit my Hawaiian Paradise property until things settle down. Mahalo and be safe! Thanks for the videos.

  21. I wish every merchant on every island were banned from selling reef "friendly" sun screen because they aren't reef "safe". Countless tourists think it's okay to use anything sold on the islands and they are sadly mistaken. 😢

  22. It seems to me that its been a long time coming that tourism needs curbed somehow. To me, it seems like a fairly easy fix. Limit the amount of rental cars on the islands, ban cruise ships all together – they are horrible for the environment/reefs etc. Plus when a ship docks and 3000 people get off in a small town like Hanalei, it paralyzes the town for 4 hours and destroys the experience for everyone else. Put stricter limits on Air BNB's and short term rentals. Stop issuing permits to build more resorts. Less tourism is a benefit to residents as well as makes for a much better experience for tourists as well. Maybe more people will understand pono..

  23. My wife's family has a home in Oahu and we used to visit a few times a year (pre-C19) to help with maintenance or other projects. We plan on visiting again by the end of the year and would love to give back or volunteer / voluntourism. Do you have any resources or programs that you can provide that we can reach out to? Thanks!

  24. CDC said About 1 in 13,275 become infected with the new variance(delta) etc. So the question Why can't we just get back to normal. This now has now become politicized. There were nearly two and a half times as many suicides 47,511 in the USA. Let's get the economy back moving.

  25. Giving back to the island would increase if your operators included it in the tour. There is a tour through either wasabi or Hawaii forest and trail that for no additional costs takes you for an extra couple hours to give back to the island. I was 100% going to book that specific one but it is not offered in December when we are coming. I’m hopeful by then things will be better all around. Morally I really wish I could postpone because I understand better now it’s not just COVID numbers effecting the islands. Unfortunately my airline tickets are non refundable so we are going to make the best of it. I can promise we won’t be blocking driveways, we will tip generously, and will do as little damage to the trails as possible. We will be hiking to the green sand beach for example.
    I wish people would just be respectful, it’s not that difficult. Even before COVID and everything that had come along with it, we knew coming there that we needed to respect the land, people and traditions.

  26. Thanks for the comments folks. It's not an easy discussion based on so many different people looking at it from so many angles.

  27. We have had our cruise cancelled three times now. Going to try again in March. I understand the concerns of the locals and feel bad that so many tourists don’t show respect and common sense when visiting. I would be fine paying the $20 to help out but wonder if for cruise passengers would it be $20 for each port visited and would it pay be added to cruise cost and then cruise company pays the state. No easy answers but hope a middle ground can be found for all. Laura N.

  28. How are the developments with the Covid pass to enter restaurants etc? Till now Covid passes from outside US are not accepted I heard. We here in Europe have a Covid app that is okay in all Europe ( to us that means many countries). Will it also be accepted in Hawaii soon? It shows you are vaccinated or have a negative test.

  29. Hawaii needs to realize they aren’t that special. No other US state requires all of the testing and vaccine proof just to enter the state. Worry about vaccinating your locals, natives who remain largely unvaccinated are the biggest problem. You want to restrict tourism, there are so many other great places in the country and world to visit.

  30. Hey Guys!

    Terrific and timely update!
    We were thinking of visiting in early Jan 2022 but will likely postpone until sometime later in 2022-2023.
    I may have business-related travel which I am always interested in as a consultant based in the Los Angeles area they find it cheaper for me to do commercial property inspections for transactions.
    Can you help me connect with lenders or real estate developers who might need assistance with conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessments and Property Condition Assessments?
    Mahalo!

  31. The big issue with tourism aside from having WAY too many of them, is the "quality" of the tourists coming, not only during this pandemic but its a trend we've been seeing for 10-20 years now.

    In the past we mainly had families, people were a little older, went to tourist attractions, took tours, had careers, money to spend, they knew how to treat people in the hospitality industry, they were calmer, more relaxed, and VASTLY more respectful & considerate… now, more of our tourists are younger, they had to save and pinch pennies to afford a trip, theyre not going to any paying attractions, they arent taking tours, theyre going into local secret spots & neighborhoods where lets be real… locals dont want them (we avoid tourist spots for a reason), theyre doing hikes because its free (& having a negative impact on trails), they arent contributing to the local economy because they dont have the financial means to… theyre basically just coming to spend as little as possible, they dont really care about the negative impact theyre having & they honestly come with an entitled attitude, like "I paid to be here, I'll do whatever I want, I'll treat you however I want.", & that dont fly here. I think its social media, its bringing in more people than the HTA & its bringing in the "wrong kind" of people.

    The "state officials" dont care about Hawai'i, the residents, the environment, they ONLY care about the money & every dollar counts, theyre like trick or treaters holding their little bags open, eyes lit up with excitement as it fills up… except their candy is the almighty tourist dollar. Theyre too lazy to actually work, to find other more stable sources for a main economy, its easier to flood the islands with tourists… not to mention their top "donators" are the resorts and hotels, which is a conflict of interest. Its sad that we miss the days when the ( cough alleged ) mob was running things ( cough allegedly ).

    Theres pot holes everywhere, the ambulances we have are notorious for breaking down mid transport, schools are neglected and run down, the school programs we used to have all got dropped because of a lack of "funding", our beaches are neglected and trashed, so are our parks… wheres the money even going?! We used to have less tourists but way more money coming into the economy. The politicians have a ton of money, all have nice expensive houses, cars, go out to eat at fancy restaurants all the time, theyre always throwing fancy parties, theyre living it up… but locals cant even afford to live here… how is tourism benefitting us?! The negative aspects far outweighs the positives at this point.

  32. Interesting question. How do we get fewer people to come to Hawaii. Then extract as much money from them as possible while they are here?
    I know! Let's restrict them to tourist zones so the locals don't have to put up with the stupid haolies, unless they want to extract money from them.
    I've lived though the ebb and flow of tourism on the big island and it is much better when it flows.
    When situations like 9-11 and now covid happen, Hawaiians leave the islands looking for work. Making the flow when it starts back up much harder to handle.
    When one talks about restricting vacation rentals to certain areas. One has to remember that every vacation rental is required by law to have local island representation, any problems can be addressed through that representative. Restricting vacation rentals restricts local income.
    Just my 2 cents.

  33. Tough conversation with no easy answers. Hawaii needs to make it look compassionate in what they do. Instead it just looks like another way to tax and fee, it's never actually about right and wrong (or so it seems) $$$.

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