Maui Business

Hawaiʻi Tourism Now: Kauaʻi Mayor Derek Kawakami Answers Questions About the Future of Kauaʻi’s Tourism Industry

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Kauaʻi Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami sits down with Pacific Media Group COO and MauiNow director, Jack Dugan to answer questions regarding tourism’s role in Kauaʻi’s economic future and its residents.

Kawakami said that the island of Kauaʻi is currently in a good place in terms of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He cautioned, however, that residents should not let their guard down and continue basic hygiene.

“I hear people say all the time, ‘We are COVID free! We are COVID free!’ Maybe we are, but people are still traveling back and forth…The risk all around our island still exists. We are not out of the woods,” Kawakami said.

The visitor industry remains the foundation of Kauaʻi’s economy and the island is working to diversify its economy.

“We have been working for years to diversify our economy, focusing on agriculture, health and wellness, and science and technology…But I have to say that getting our visitor industry to a place where we can coexist and be healthy is gonna be vital to this recovery,” Kawakami said.


Kauaʻi’s visitor industry is the largest employer to the island’s residents, providing between 35,000 to 36,000 jobs.


“All the other small mom and pops and local businesses that are dependent on the visitor industry…It is a critical lifeline for them as well,” Kawakami said.

To learn more about this interview and Mayor Kawakami’s thoughts, watch the interview above.

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