HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - We’ve all heard the phrase “keep the country country.”
Now, a new campaign aims to urge visitors to “keep Hawaii Hawaii.”
Councilwoman Kymberly Pine is behind the effort and says it’s aimed at educating visitors about the importance of respecting the land, culture and people of the islands.
She’s introduced a bill that would require all visitors sign a pledge to “keep Hawaii Hawaii.”
“We’re getting to a point that if we don’t as a city get involved in managing our tourism better then the residents are going to start turning against our no. 1 economy," she said.
"That could hurt us in the long run so we have to get a grasp on this now.”
Under Pine’s plan, the city would work with airlines and cruise ships to make visitors more respectful.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority says Hawaii had more than 900,000 visitors in August, an increase of about 10% from last year.
Meanwhile, Pine said a new University of Hawaii study reports that consistent tourism growth has city and state resources on the verge of being overwhelmed.
Nalani-Tearsjah Aipoalani-Tuaoi-Tootoo was born and raised in Nanakuli. She says she remembers when it was rare to see a visitor venture into her neighborhood.
“Not too many tourists knew about this. So, this is where all the kids came,” she said. “It's just the rubbish, the mess and sometimes how they don't respect the locals here. Not all, but some."
Aipoalani-Tuaoi-Tootoo says she’s hopeful that the pledge will help, but not holding her breath.
“People can always say something and do different. I mean I guess it’s worth a try. But I gotta see it to believe it.”