Southwest Airlines opens its flights to Hawaii, and it may bring additional 4,000 tourists a day to the country. With a flock of visitors coming to the Aloha State, a new study reveals its tourism has reached the "tipping point" of overtourism.
Former Hawaii Tourism Authority exec and the University of Hawaii (UH) Assistant Dean Frank Haas, UH professor of economics emeritus James Mark, and the Bank of Hawaii veteran economist Brewbaker published the study about the overcrowded tourists in Hawaii. They explained the growing numbers of tourists visiting Hawaii every year are on a crucial point of "overwhelming the island's resources, damaging residents' quality of life, and harmfully impacting general economic vitality," putting the country on the tipping point of overtourism.
Unfortunately, the experts believe this overtourism will continue unless tourism management officials do something about it, per Fox News. If they can't manage to control the number of visitors and its impact on the island, the issue may get worst, and there may be possible dangerous consequences.
"We're not at a crisis point yet. We're at a tipping point," Haas told WFAA. "We have so many visitors. We need to get serious about creating management programs."
Despite the great number of tourists, totaling almost 10 million every year, Hawaii tourism is still showing signs of trouble when it comes to the economy. The inflation-adjusted spending per tourist is descending. It is weakening economic contribution and "eroding resident sentiment." It is also overcrowding the country's site and attractions, proving the current tourism plan are not enough to effectively manage the increasing problems.
This problem may continue to get worse with the opening of Southwest Airlines flights to Hawaii. As 4,000 people a day are expected to come to the country, governor David Ige is concerned about its possible effect. "We are concerned about managing the number of visitors we have here. We are definitely working to do that," he said, via TravelPulse.
Mak and Haas believe the upcoming Southwest Airlines flights are not bad for Hawaii at all. What they should put the focus on is attracting more high-spending visitors to visit the country. Although a lot of tourists are flocking their way to the town, they are spending "less and less money," making the economy suffer.
First-time visitors spend more compared to repeat visitors, so it may be Southwest Airlines' goal to bring in more first-time visitors to Hawaii. "If [Southwest Airlines] attracts first-time visitors from these smaller markets, it'll be good for us," Mak said.