Tourism’s Future: Economic Issue

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - June 03, 2009

There is no denying that tourism is our state’s No. 1 industry.

We all know that.

But what we don’t know is how to extricate ourselves from the downward spiral we find ourselves in. I won’t belabor the point by citing the supporting statistical data that painfully shows just how bad things are. All you need to do is talk to an uncle or aunty or neighbor who is in the business.

Or walk the lobbies of Neighbor Island hotels, where you could throw a Buick without fear of hitting anybody.

Or read the above-the-fold headlines morbidly trumpeting the dire circumstances.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got issues.


I have spoken to tourism officials, leaders and the rank and file. There is one common response from them all: “When things get better, and they will ...” If there is a proverbial silver lining to this difficult time, it’s the boundless optimism expressed by those who are fully invested in the success of tourism.

But let’s be real.

Are we really putting our stock into the cyclical nature of our nation’s economy?

The rationale for our recovery is the inevitable reversal of the economic condition achieved simply with the passing of time. In other words, if we just stick it out long enough, things will get better. Not unlike the German strategy in World War II versus Russia, our game plan is victory by attrition.

We know how that turned out.

Although I am not of the mind that the calendar is our salvation, I have to say those who are responsible for leading us out of this malaise aren’t showing a great deal of comprehension of our daily reality. If politicians at the federal, state and local level really lived the lives we do, would they embark on one of the greatest money grabs ever when the dollar supply is shrinking faster than viewership for a Rosie O’Donnell variety show?

Perhaps there is some credence in the cyclical nature of our economy. But this premise is based on an economy that was relatively unchanged for generations. Stability connotes predictability.

What we see today, however, is a fundamentally different economy. Instead of a moderately regulated capitalistic free market, we find ourselves dabbling in government-driven socialism reminiscent of the disastrous fiscal strategy developed by President Herbert Hoover and expanded by President Franklin Roosevelt. The ensuing Great Depression was exacerbated by policies not so dissimilar to those the Obama administration and supporters are promulgating today.

That includes our local representation.

With such dramatic changes to our basic economy, how can one justify that a cyclical recovery is possible?

In order for our tourism industry in Hawaii to thrive once more, it’s obvious we need a revitalized overall economy. But are greater taxation, inordinate spending and accumulation of debt the right strategy?

Or is the key to our recovery and long-term prosperity the return of hard-earned money to the hands of those who earned it?

It is proven that dramatic reduction of taxes and expense on the citizenry reinvigorates an economy.

Unfortunately, the political party in power doesn’t see it that way.

The important question is, how will you see it in 2010?

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