Hawaii's Kualoa Ranch. (photo by Jessica Kelly)
Hawaii Governor Josh Green introduced a series of bills that would implement a “paradise passport” and charge tourists for visiting the island state’s top destinations.
According to KHON2.com, Governor Green said during a campaign stop that he supported a bill that would propose a $50 fee on every incoming traveler who visited “a state-owned park, beach, forest, trail, or other recreational natural areas.”
The new legislation would call for travelers 16 and older to buy a one-year “environmental license” to visit state recreational sites for $50. The money would be used to “deal with impacts of climate change” and “mitigate the impact of the visitors” on the state’s top attractions.
The original proposal was broader and would have applied to all travelers, not just those visiting key landmarks and locations, but backlash from travel industry insiders and lawmakers forced the administration to make modifications.
Hawaii Lodging and Visitor Association’s Mufi Hannemann said the updated proposal is fairer to travelers who aren’t in the state to visit tourism hotspots. Hannemann also said the industry supports using the money to address the impact of visitors on the natural areas.
“I’m very pleased that he’s moved off a blanket green fee,” Hannemann told KHON2. “This is a benefit, not just for visitors, but residents will also see that they’ll be able to benefit from these areas.”
Hawaii State Senate President Ron Kouchi said enforcing the paradise passport requirements would be a challenge. Officials are concerned that visitors will follow in the footsteps of people who broke COVID-19 quarantine protocols and visit the top destinations without a license.
In December, Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) announced that the state stands to circumvent any fallout from the economic recession next year that’s been projected for the U.S. in 2023.
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