Local Connection: 'Sustainable' Tourism

This week, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is hosting what it is calling the Global Tourism Summit at the convention center.

The theme is sustainability – whatever that means.

Sustainability is one of those words that sounds good, but is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

When it comes to tourism in Hawaii today, many local residents already see their neighborhoods and favorite places as overrun with visitors. To those residents, a sustainable tourist industry probably means fewer tourists – not more.

It's likely the industry's idea of sustainability is the ability to keep growing while keeping a positive relationship with the general public and the politicians.

The industry's failure to block an increase in the hotel room tax for rail is a good indication that political leaders are more willing than ever to defy the hotel business.

So this week's discussion about sustainable tourism, should ask whether the industry should work harder to show that it cares about the quality of life of the people who live here.

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