Travel industry works to promote safety with brazen visitors, bloggers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many in Hawaii's travel industry believe social media has made visitors more brazen. They say part of the problems is bloggers and websites that promote hazardous activities or trespassing on private land to get to a trail head.

"We see it all the time in Hawaii. People pushing the limits, people going behind boundaries. This kind of obsession with pictures and the presentation of your trip drives people to do things that maybe they wouldn't," said travel writer Will McGough, the editor of Wake and Wander Hawaii.

McGough believes social media puts pressure on visitors to impress their followers, even if it means breaking the law. But he says his fellow writers and bloggers should not be promoting illegal visitor activities, and they have an obligation to ensure readers understand all the risks.

"It's not to say don't write about the hardest hikes or don't write about the biggest waves, but it's to really take the time to explain what type of person those conditions are for and how to be prepared for them," McGough said.

On Kauai, Kaleo Perez watched anxiously as a visitor posed for pictures, just inches from the edge of Waimea Canyon. The retired Kauai Police Captain says people often ignore the signs and jump over the metal railings to get a closer view.

"Just one gust of wind and they would probably fall over. And the drop is straight down," said Perez.

The agency -- Hawaii Tourism United States -- says they see tens of thousands of social media posts about Hawaii every week, and they have teams in each county monitoring what's being said online.

"We also rely heavily on our residents and past visitors who serve as our advocates, and often times they chime in and educate these folks," said Michael Ni, the agency's Director of Social Media Marketing.

For them, it's a delicate balance between encouraging visitor safety and respecting a person's right to free speech. Whenever they reach out for a correction -- or requests to have a post taken down -- they say most writers are pretty cooperative. But if someone is posting on their own page and refuses, there's not much they can do.

"We can remind them of the laws in place and the regulations in place," Ni said.

The battle with the blogs is an ongoing issue. In 2011, lawmakers tried to crack down on guidebooks and websites, but were unsuccessful. And in 2014, Kamehameha Schools sent a "cease and desist" request to dozens of bloggers, asking to remove any mentions of hiking trails on the estate's private property.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved. ?