(808) 768-5001 (808) 768-1217 (fax)


DATE 5/20/19 Tel: (808) 561-0901

The Impact and Cost of Rapidly Rising Visitor Arrivals to be Discussed Tuesday

HONOLULU—Councilmember Kymberly Pine, Chair of the Honolulu City Council Committee on Business Economic Development and Tourism, will host a discussion about “Balancing the Visitor Boon” on Tuesday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m. in the Council committee room located on the second floor of Honolulu Hale.

“We need to understand the true costs associated with the surge in visitor arrivals over the last decade to ensure that we are implementing effective, responsible policies,” said Councilmember Pine. “Our visitor industry is the driver of our local economy but we cannot risk ruining our pristine natural environment, overburdening our infrastructure or pricing local people right of Hawaii in order to turn a profit. We will continue this critical conversation to help guide our policy making efforts at the County level.”

The economist Paul Brewbaker, principal at TZ Economics and a veteran expert on the local economy, and John Foti of the Kaulana Corporation, a property management and real estate company, will present their perspectives Tuesday.

“Between 2009, at the end of the Great Recession, and 2018 Oahu visitor arrivals rose from about 4 million to about 6 million. In 1990, Oahu visitor arrivals were about 5 million. Thus, Destination Oahu both went Back To The Future while boldly going where Oahu had not gone before, to mash movie metaphors. Because tourism’s negative externalities—unintended, uncompensated costs—such as congestion and overutilization of public-access natural recreational resources or plucking “victims” off mountain peaks for no reason other than Google Maps showed them how to get there and how to fall off, are non-linearities. The social costs of additional tourists rise faster than the social benefits once a congestion threshold is reached. We do it for the money,” wrote Brewbaker, in his prepared remarks. “Constant-dollar tourism receipts statewide have not grown for thirty years while the statewide visitor count has risen by 50 percent. This outcome—’more visitors, not more dollars’—would seem to be the opposite of what policymakers aspired to thirty years ago. It’s fair to ask how that turned out and the answer is not that great.”

Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine represents residents of District One (ʻEwa, ʻEwa Beach, Kapolei, Honokai Hale, Ko ʻOlina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha, Keaau, Makua)

# # # #
Brewbaker Honolulu City Council May 21 2019 short version.pdf
Brewbaker testimony Honolulu City Council May 21 2019.pdf