Maui News

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Unveiled Spring 2021 Resident Sentiment Survey Results

June 24, 2021, 4:05 PM HST
* Updated June 24, 4:06 PM
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The Spring 2021 Resident Sentiment Survey from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority found 76% of Hawaiʻi residents said yes when asked if the state tax revenue produced by tourism is worth the issues associated with the industry. Photo Credit: HTA

The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s Spring 2021 Resident Sentiment Survey of 1,779 Hawaiʻi residents found that while many residents are concerned with the visitor industry’s growth, the majority believe that tourism is worth the issues associated with the industry.

Residents were asked: “In 2019, visitors spent nearly $18 billion in Hawaiʻi, which produced $2 billion in state tax revenues to support local schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Do you think tourism is worth the issues associated with the industry?”

Seventy-six percent of Hawaiʻi residents statewide said “yes.” The breakdown by counties: Maui County residents (70% yes), Oʻahu residents (78% yes), Big Island residents (73% yes) and Kauaʻi residents (70% yes).

When broken down by demographics, the highest percentage of respondents who said they do not think tourism is worth the issues came from residents 18-34 years old and those who have lived in Hawaiʻi for less than one year. Among those residents who thought tourism was not worth the issues, the residents biggest concerns were overcrowding, too much traffic, damage to the environment, high cost of living and lack of respect of the native culture.

The survey was completed by 376 Maui County residents, 675 Oʻahu residents, 451 Big Island residents and 277 resident on Kauaʻi.

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Residents also were asked questions regarding overall tourism management efforts, and the results were mixed. Forty-four percent of statewide residents provided a positive rating (selected 6 to 10 on a 1-10 scale) or “don’t know” rating in their agreement that “I feel like tourism is being better managed on my island.” Of the four counties, those on Kauaʻi had the highest percentage of positive responses (46%) to that statement.

Chart from HTAʻs Spring 2021 Resident Sentiment Survey
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The survey results also revealed what is most important to residents when it comes to specific tourism management strategies. The highest percentage of residents said that it is extremely or somewhat important to educate visitors and residents to malama the islands and each other (88%); to eliminate illegal vacation rentals on my island (76%); and to charge visitor access fees to state parks and trails (71%).

Regarding overall resident sentiment towards tourism, the survey found that initiatives that grow the economic and quality of life benefits of tourism, integrated with managed tourism efforts, can help to improve resident sentiment the most.

Compared to the 2020 survey results, fewer residents felt the tourism industry creates many well-paying jobs or jobs that have opportunities for advancement. Fewer residents also felt that the tourism industry enhances residents’ quality of life.

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HTA’s Tourism Research Division contracted Omnitrak Group, Inc. to conduct the survey, which was conducted from April 27 through June 3, 2021. Residents in all four counties participated in the survey by phone and online. This round was conducted as a request by HTA’s board and will be followed by focus groups.

The results of the 2021 survey are compared to HTA’s last Resident Sentiment Survey, which was done from September 16 through October 25, 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and just as Hawaiʻi’s Safe Travels program got underway, allowing travelers with a valid negative COVID-19 test to bypass the state’s mandatory quarantine.

The 2021 Resident Sentiment Survey is available on HTA’s website: www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/research/evaluation-performance-measures/

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