The AP reports that the Hawaiian town of Kailua has endured a lot of popular tourism lately. With even President Barack Obama and his family spending Christmas in Kailua, some of the town’s residents have decided to take a stand against tourism.
Well, Kailua has had enough of the haoles. A neighborhood board has asked the state tourism agency not to encourage visitors to come and stay overnight in Kailua anymore. They voted 12-2 in September to “stop promoting Kailua as a tourist destination and alternative to Waikiki.”
The AP is reporting the board’s actions as a “salvo in a long-running battle” regarding how much tourism Kailua’s residents are willing to tolerate. Tourists became a problem when they arrived seeking the “local island life” experience rather than simply visiting as a tourist.
One of the board’s big issues is the bed-and-breakfast vacation rental industry. Their argument is that such businesses are inflating the costs of real estate and making homes unaffordable to locals.
Lisa Marten, one of the board members, said “It doesn’t feel like a neighborhood when you don’t know the people there… If there’s any sort of safety issue, there’s no one to ask for help because you don’t know them.” Two of three nearby houses are vacation rental homes.
Hawaii maintains between 7000 and 10,000 county-regulated vacation rental homes. The AP estimates, based on the Hawaii Tourism Authority, that between 280 and 500 vacation rentals are in Kailua, but only a few dozen are actually licensed; the rest are considered illegal, according to Board Chairman Chuck Prentiss.
Oahu hasn’t issued new vacation rental permits since 1990, and Marten believes there’s a certain hypocrisy in the Hawaiian Tourism Authority promoting vacation rentals in Kailua while the city of Kailua struggles to shut down illegal vacation rentals.
However, Marten’s neighborhood board hardly represents the entire town. Kailua’s Honolulu City Council representative, Ikaika Anderson, called the resolution “an embarrassment,” adding that it “[sends] a signal to those folks who do not live in Kailua that Kailua residents do not welcome them.”
Apologists of the vacation homes said their activities support the local economy, and that those owners who rent out their homes to tourists do so for the extra income needed to afford Kailua’s expensive mortgages.[Image via YouTube]