Hands Off Hawai’i!

A look into how tourism in Hawaii is causing a detrimental burden on the state’s future.


Raneen AlRammahi

Nidhi Kuchulakanti, Body Copy Editor

Hawai’i is considered one of the most beautiful states in the United States. Filled with over 100 beaches, 15 central volcanoes, assortments of authentic foods, and lots of valuable culture- Hawai’i has made its way up to becoming one of the most popular places for tourists to visit. However, as more and more tourists are filling their way in, many pressing issues are starting to arise in the once beautiful state– inducing permanent damage. 

There are a number of qualities that make Hawai’i such a popular attraction spot in the United States. From the crystal clear water to immensely flavorful foods, nearly all attraction spots are so stunning that tourists line up one after another to travel to this place. There are many vastly beautiful cities in Hawai’i- from Honolulu, Pearl City, Kailua, to Hilo- and each is consumed by many different beautiful qualities. For one, in Hawai’i, there is a large variety of foods to try from. Foods such as poke (marinated, uncooked fish that is diced and mixed with various vegetables), tacos, papaya, coconuts, pineapples, lychee, pork, etc., are greatly rich and popular at Hawai’i- making it a hot spot for people to find quality and authentic foods. Along with the great food, there are many beautiful attractions. Not only is Hawai’i composed of many natural beaches that are perfectly suitable for spending a day relaxing or trying various water activities, it is also filled with numerous other attractions such as the infamous Pearl Harbor’s memorial, the Na Pali Coast state wilderness park, the volcanoes national park, Halawa Valley, and much more. 

Tourists continuously hike trails that are deemed illegal, treat the wildlife with little to no respect, and contribute to the rise in living costs for locals. In order to protect Hawai’i— a state  filled with immense natural beauty and wildlife— citizens must start taking this salient issue seriously and work to make a change. 

Although many might cite the reasons stated before as inclinations to visit, it is important to acknowledge that there is a cultural aspect that should not be ignored. Native Hawai’ians have multiple important cultural values that are strictly followed, so great frustration roots from when they see tourists disrespecting their values and invading their home. For instance, according to the KABC-TV news, a video on July 18th, 2021 went viral when a woman was shown harassing a monk sea on the beach- gripping it and weighing it down solely for the purpose of a good photograph. 

Another critical situation in Hawai’i is the water contamination crisis that first started last year. In May 2021, there was a poorly handled fuel transfer, causing over 20,000 gallons of fuel to leak by November 2021. This leakage of fuel heavily contaminated the water of residents, making it entirely undrinkable for some. Since the climate change crisis has also plummeted in ways people have never seen before these past few years, there is already a scarce amount of water– and careless issues are not helping the situation. Although this issue first arose in 2021 and has now passed, the effects of it will always have a harmful outcome on the residents and the state itself. 

Unfortunately, these actions are just one of many unjustifiable measures that tourists are taking all the time. The disrespect and carelessness that has been shown towards Hawai’i has been ongoing for many years, but people are continuing to dismiss it and still tour around with disregard. 

When interviewed about how tourists are overstepping boundaries, Dr. Konai Helu-Thaman said, 

Tourism continues to be the major contributor to a process of cultural invasion… Such an invasion has left its marks on most island environments… (and those marks can symbolize) the erosion and ultimate death of indigenous island cultures and their value systems.”

With the continuous level of disrespect that tourists are continuously showing towards Native Hawai’ians, the community is starting to become extremely damaged. The state of Hawai’i is quite beautiful and is filled with many precious and authentic values, so it is important for tourists to treat other people’s homes with respect. Hawai’i is still such a gorgeous place to visit, so the next time that you are thinking of planning a trip there, make sure to educate yourself thoroughly and respect other people’s cultures.