Hawaii lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on the proposed tourism fee by the end of this year’s legislative session. The fee, which would be collected from tourists visiting the state, was not passed because there was no consensus on the financial details.
The fee was intended to fund the state’s environmental and infrastructure projects and mitigate the impact of tourism on the Hawaiian islands. However, the failure to pass the bill means that Hawaii’s tourism industry will continue without additional financial burdens on visitors.
Legislators in Hawaii were developing a one-year permit or license that visitors would need to purchase to use state parks and trails.
The Senate proposed a fee of $50, while the House of Representatives removed the dollar amount. The lawmakers also proposed $360,000 to hire staff to implement the plan, but no agreement was reached.
According to a study conducted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the governor, members of the House and Senate, and island residents supported the idea of a tourism tax.
“I don’t think the bill failed to pass on the merits of the legislation and of the idea that we ought to be leveraging visitors to pay for these things,” state Senator Chris Lee said. “I think it was more the question of how and when.”
Despite frustration about the bill’s defeat in the state Congress, Governor Josh Green stated that officials must take advantage of the situation to “have a more comprehensive discussion on managing tourism.”
Governor Green stated that lawmakers expect the bill to come up for discussion again next year and receive enough support to pass. According to him, the tourism fee would lower prices for locals and mitigate the negative impacts of tourism.
Hawaii has about 1.5 million residents who live here year-round, but the islands are visited by over 10 million tourists annually, putting a strain on the local economic structure and environment.