Maui Mayor Victorino Backs Recommendations to Deal with Tourism Impacts

September 27, 2019, 6:41 AM HST · Updated September 27, 11:44 AM
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Maui Mayor Michael Victorino endorsed recommendations from his fact-finding Tourism Group that call for ways to address the environmental and community impacts of the visitor industry.

The group’s recommendations include: empaneling a permanent Tourism Advisory Committee; providing more visitor education opportunities; enhancing cultural awareness for visitors; improving ground transportation to reduce traffic congestion; and increasing enforcement for illegal vacation rentals.

“Tourism is the main engine of our economy,” said Mayor Victorino. “But the industry needs to work better for residents and visitors alike. It’s not enough to set visitor arrival and spending records, although both are much appreciated. Now, we need to look at ways to respect our residents’ home and culture while maintaining the health of our visitor industry.”

At the beginning of his administration, Mayor Victorino appointed former Maui Visitors Bureau Executive Director Terryl Vencl as a Community Liaison in the Office of the Mayor, assigning her the task of implementing his vision of collaborative tourism management. The first step was form his fact-finding Tourism Group to meet regularly and make recommendations.

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“Maui County’s tourism industry is strong, but it has segments – like resorts, hotels, small businesses, activity providers and ground transportation – that don’t always communicate as well as they should,” Mayor Victorino said. “Creating a permanent Tourism Advisory Group for the mayor would get representatives of these groups talking and break down silos as a way of improving collaboration as well as communication.”

Details on the formation of the Tourism Advisory Committee have yet to be worked out.

Below is a more detailed look at the fact-finding group’s recommendations:

  • Create a standing Tourism Advisory Committee for the Mayor with representatives from community groups, the visitor industry, environmental groups, government and business, among other stakeholders.
  • Enhance visitor education with more information available, including on social media, on topics such as cultural awareness, environmental stewardship, traffic advisories, legal vacation rentals and alerts for areas to avoid because of dangerous conditions.
  • Improve ground transportation with more busing options, including additional times for commuter busing; providing buses or shuttles from Kahului Airport to resorts; and staggering workforce hours.
  • Address environmental stewardship with watershed management and measures to control sediment runoff into the ocean.
  • Partner with hotels and resorts in finding ways to communicate ocean and hiking safety for visitors, environmental protection, respect for local culture and traditions and honor for our islands’ sense of place.
  • Improve ocean safety with more lifeguards, swimmer safety tubes and better enforcement of boater regulations.
  • Address overcrowding issues at beaches, East Maui, Māʻalaea and Lahaina harbors, and other locations by, among other things, prohibiting commercial beach activities on Sundays and holidays.
  • Manage visitor traffic and parking along the Hāna Highway with better signage and better illegal parking enforcement.

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