Maui Business

Hawai’i Tourism Now: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii President and CEO Keli’i Akina Discusses the Current State of Hawai’i’s Economy

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The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ (OHA) Trustee-at-Large and Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s President and CEO, Keli’i Akina, Ph.D. sits down with Pacific Media Group COO and MauiNow director, Jack Dugan to answer questions about the current state of Hawai’i’s economy.

Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent public policy think tank focusing on educating the people of Hawai’i about the values of individual liberty, economic freedom and accountable government.

“The fact that we are independent means by choice, we do not take any money from the government, or the university, the military or any political parties. So that we can be a voice to speak about the economy and the government in a way that represents the people and not any special interests,” Akina said.

While Akina recognizes the important role the government has played in protecting public health and safety during the pandemic, he also highlights the devastating effects the government mandates have inflicted on Hawai’i’s economy.


“The shutdown of the economy has had a devastating effect upon Hawai’i, one that is both short-term – in terms of crisis – and one that will be long-term. Recovering from it will become more and more difficult the longer we are shutdown,” Akina said.

“We need to strike a balance. Just as we have been aggressive in protecting public health over the last several months, simultaneously, we also need to be aggressive in reopening the economy – especially the tourist industry. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to climb out of that hole.”

Akina says that the government has issued a one-size-fits-all decree for the public that hurt them economically. He stated that public health and a good economy are not polar opposites and should be both pursued.


“The best people to pursue ensuring public health are the businesses and consumers who themselves have a great incentive to see that they are safe. The typical business is able to figure out a way to ensure social distancing and good hygienic practice to protect its own employees and its consumers. If we let businesses do this, I think we are better off in the long run,” Akina said.

Grassroot Institute of Hawai’i released a policy brief called “Road map to prosperity” detailing long-range solutions to Hawai’i’s economic recovery and prosperity after the coronavirus pandemic.

To learn more about the Grassroot Institute of Hawai’i and Akina’s thoughts and solutions to Hawai’i’s economic recovery, watch the video above or visit their website.


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