Hawaii residents see progress in balancing tourism and quality of life, survey finds

Hawaii residents see progress in balancing tourism and quality of life, survey finds

Hawaii residents are increasingly optimistic about the balance between economic benefits of tourism and quality of life for residents, according to the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s Fall 2022 Resident Sentiment Survey.

The survey, which was conducted by Omnitrak Group, Inc., revealed 44 percent of residents agreed tourism is being better managed on their island, while 67 percent said tax dollars should be spent to manage tourism’s impacts in their community.

For many residents, the concept of tourism management is resonating. The survey showed those who were aware of the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Destination Management Action Plans and the organization’s efforts to better manage tourism had a more favorable view.

“The tide is turning in the right direction due largely to our collective destination management efforts in partnership with community stakeholders, government agencies, and industry partners,” said John De Fries, HTA’s president and CEO.

While the survey indicated there is still work to be done, with 67 percent of respondents agreeing their island is being run for tourists at the expense of local people, residents are becoming more optimistic about the future of tourism in their state.

The top three drivers of resident sentiment in the fall were job opportunities, support of local businesses, and the creation of shopping, dining, and entertainment options for residents.

“Tourism has been a vital part of our economy for decades, but it’s important that we manage it in a way that benefits both our visitors and our local communities,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney. “We will continue to work with our partners to strike that balance and ensure that Hawaii remains a special place for generations to come.”

The survey revealed 67 percent of residents had a favorable opinion of tourism as an industry in Hawaii, and more residents in this wave compared to the prior wave said tourism has brought more benefits than problems, nearing the 2019 mark.

However, for those who disagreed tourism has brought more benefits than problems, the opportunities for improvement included addressing issues such as overcrowding, environmental damage, and lack of respect for culture and tradition.

The survey was taken from Oct. 19 through Dec. 3, 2022, with residents in all four Hawaii counties participating by phone and online.