Is tourism-friendly Hawaii ignoring residents?
11 April 2006
HONOLULU (AP) - A survey conducted for Hawaii's tourism authority shows that a majority of local residents blame the state's top industry for crowded roads and beaches, low-paying jobs and poor local services.
For the first time since similar surveys were first conducted in 1988, a majority -- 55 percent -- of those surveyed agree with the statement: "This island is being run for tourists at the expense of local people."
That's up from 48 percent in the last survey in 2002.
The 2005 Survey of Resident Sentiments on Tourism in Hawaii found that fewer than half of 1,352 Hawaii residents interviewed agreed that the industry "has been mostly good for you and your family." The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
Hawaii resident Robin Ching said she wants to see more tourist dollars going to schools and to repair roads and sewer lines.
"We need to take care of local needs first," said Ching, a 35-year-old warehouse supervisor. "We already promote tourism so much while our local needs are neglected."
The survey conducted by Market Trends Pacific Inc. and John M. Knox and Associates Inc. was designed to measure feelings toward an industry that accounts for about one-fourth of the islands' economy.
In 2005, the islands welcomed a record 7.4 million visitors who spent a record $11.5 billion.
Pollster John Knox said data from the latest survey does not mean that Hawaii residents dislike tourists. He said it simply indicates that islanders want the state to improve services that are being strained as more visitors come to the islands.
Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said they believe tourism worsens traffic, and 56 percent linked the industry to higher housing costs and crime.
"The government got quite low scores for the infrastructure keeping up with population, and there's a general perception that the growth is being driven by tourism," Knox said.
Hawaii residents also had more concerns about the preservation of Hawaiian culture, the number and quality of parks and pollution than in the last survey.
Tourism officials plan to review the survey to address resident concerns about the visitor industry, said state tourism Liaison Marsh Wienert.
"Any change is critical," she said. "We can't have a disconnect between the industry and our residents."