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Residents in east Maui beg for relief from visitor boom

Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:30 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:58 PM HST
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EAST MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Hawaii experiences an influx in tourists, residents in rural communities in east Maui are begging state and county officials for help.

“It’s become a little bit extra these days,” said east Maui resident Kamalani Pahukoa.

For many visitors, driving the Road to Hana is a Maui must-do. But when the island is seeing about 8,000 travelers a day, east Maui residents like Pahukoa say it is too much for them to handle.

“We know our visitors are important to our economy but there comes a time where you really start to look at the numbers and it seems like the visitors outnumber our residents,” Pahukoa said. “So that becomes a problem to our quality of life, traditions, culture and access.”

Officials estimate between 400 to 600 people drive Road to Hana every day.

“There’s a lot more people than expected,” said Jackie Ridenour, who is visiting from Oklahoma.

The state put up signs warning of illegal parking fines, but residents are demanding a bigger traffic mitigation plan.

“Looking at restricting how many people are going out to Hana in a given day,” said Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director, Lauren Armstrong.

Armstrong said they are looking into everything from toll roads to reservation systems.

“Requiring reservations to go to certain destinations out in Hana can limit the number of people that are going,” Armstrong said.

Pahukoa says a crowd control and traffic mitigation plan for east Maui is long overdue and hopes relief for residents comes soon.

“We here out in east Maui do not have the resources for the demand,” she said.

“We await government officials support and funding towards visitor management plans to simply make sure that our visitors go home safely and to ensure that the quality of life of our community members are protected.”

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