Letters: Too Many Tourists, Bad Visitor Experiences, Global Vaccination Effort & Spreading Happiness Program
* Updated June 11, 11:24 AM
I Am Not Anti-Tourism; I Am Anti-Nonstop Growth
We are being told that by summer, Maui will be back to pre pandemic conditions for the visitor industry. With my visits to town to shop, go to the beach and other destinations, it feels as if that has already happened.
The traffic passing my house to Haleakalā Crater seems constant now, with the sunrise traffic also back to normal. I ask myself two questions daily as ”normal” appears to be unfolding: Does the community want a return back to those overcrowded, congested days with 18,000 rental cars on our roads. And secondly, why didn’t State and County governments convene some serious focus on seeking improvement to island life during the time it had to do so – more than a year?
Is pre pandemic “normal” what we wish for Maui, where it was then indeed clear that far, far too many people were coming to Maui? We no longer shared the island then with the visitors prior to the pandemic, rather we were excluded from much of it given the crowds. That appears to be happening again, with having absolutely no serious thought given to appropriate improvements and solutions for our local community’s quality of life — like how to better balance the negative effects on Hana by far, far too many cars and people daily.
Our governments and leaders failed miserably these past 17 months to engage in serious, thoughtful conversations with the citizens to better ensure a quality of life as the floodgates of nonstop, increasing tourism assault the islands again. And let me be clear, I am not anti-tourism given its importance to our islands. I am, however, very anti-nonstop growth. It’s as if there is a deliberate and conscious attempt to kill the golden goose while the government stands on the sidelines watching and doing nothing, and in many cases, condoning the slaughter. — Vincent Linares, Kula
Vaccinated Visitor Upset with ʻNonsensicalʻ Costs for COVID-19 Tests
I had planned my recent trip to Hawaiʻi with great anticipation. My son recently graduated from college and I wanted to give him the trip of a lifetime. I recently had to retire from my job in law enforcement due to my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, so money is tight but this was a special occasion. Unfortunately, my budget didn’t include the mandatory COVID-19 test that cost $140 per person, a test that is free on the mainland.
Also, my son and I are both completely vaccinated but were told these vaccinations did not count as they were not completed in Hawaiʻi. Completely ridiculous. In addition, we had to get another $140 COVID-19 test in the airport to travel between islands. And because our results did not come in until minutes before our flight departed, the gate attendant literally closed the door in our faces, leaving me in a wheelchair with no hotel and no luggage. Our first trip to paradise was mired by these nonsensical costs and delays. — Margarette Parrish, Rock Hill, SC
Vaccinated Maui Visitor Says Treated Like ʻPrisonerʻ for Arriving with Antigen Test
My friend and I just spent the past month preparing for our week long vacation to Wailea Beach Resort in Maui. We missed our first flight leaving St. Louis, MO by just minutes. That was at 5:57 am. Fortunately, we were able to get on one at 3:38 pm to [Los Angeles] and [then to Maui]. We had gotten our negative test results (taken at CVS health, a trusted partner of Hawaiʻi’s); I had been vaccinated; we had our QR code’s; downloaded the app; etc. There was no indication of any problem until we stepped off the plane here.
We were informed the test we took was antigen. We are not familiar with all this lingo? What the hell is antigen? I then proceeded to show her my vaccination card, of which she said they do not accept. Our only options were to fly back home and throw away an entire vacation, pay out of pocket to fly 12 hours round trip back to [Los Angeles] to take correct test (who knows how long that will take and how long to receive results would be), or pay out of pocket for new hotel stay here, since Wailea beach resort does not allow quarantine, and be in our room the entire time.
Then, we wake up today to find out they are lifting the restrictions the 15th, 3 days after our vacation is scheduled to end. What is more frustrating is that even if we were positive for COVID-19, we just sat next to every person coming to Maui on the plane, so their negative results from the appropriate test would be irrelevant in my opinion. But, we’re not. We have two negative test results, no symptoms, and have been vaccinated, took off work, shelled out thousands of dollars, flew 4,100 miles to get locked up and made to feel like a prisoner or alien. — Emily Meissner, Fenton, MO
Congratulations for ʻSpreading Happiness Programʻ Being Taught at Waiheʻe School
Congratulations to Karen Romero of Humans World Wide and Jeremy Percich, teacher at Waihe’e school, for teaching the students “the spreading happiness program” with Jeremy’s class. Beats some of the programs that are currently being spread in schools around the country and includes everyone. Happy Monday. — Lee DeVore, Wailuku
US Should Support Global COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts
Hawaiʻi Gov. David Ige announced Hawaiʻi will drop all COVID-19 restrictions once 70% of its residents are fully vaccinated. With the “Hawaiʻi Got Vaccinated” incentivizing campaign, this goal seems within reach. But what does this look like in other places?
In low-income countries, campaigns like our own are unavailable. COVID-19 cases continue to climb; vaccines are not expected to roll-out for several years; and goals like ours in Hawaiʻi are far from anyone’s reach. However, with an investment in global health security, Congress can provide funding and international assistance to fight COVID-19 globally while simultaneously furthering US national security.
As retired Admiral [James] Stavridis and General [Anthony] Zinni state: “No matter how successful we are in fighting the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic at home, we will never stop it unless we are also fighting it around the world.”
The Borgen Project, an organization that works to end global poverty, believes supporting the COVAX initiative is important and can provide relief for countries with limited resources. As an ambassador of this organization, I feel that the fight against the pandemic at home is just as important as the fight abroad and I hope you do also. — Lucy Dustman, Makawao
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