In a bid to counter the challenges of over-tourism and contribute to environmental conservation, Hawaii Governor Josh Green has put forward a proposal to impose a $25 fee on all incoming tourists checking into hotels or short-term rentals. The announcement came during his 2024 state of the state address, where Governor Green emphasized that the modest fee aimed to generate over $68 million annually. The proposed revenue is earmarked for crucial initiatives such as beach preservation, fire breaks, and other preventative measures.
Governor Green justified the introduction of a “Climate Impact Fee” by highlighting the necessity of allocating resources to protect Hawaii’s environment and increase awareness about the impacts of climate change. He stressed that the fee was a reasonable expectation from visitors, considering Hawaii’s natural resources, including beaches, forests, and waterfalls, are integral to the state’s culture and way of life.
While presenting the proposal, Governor Green expressed openness to alternative suggestions that align with the overarching goals. Among the alternatives mentioned was the possibility of augmenting the transient accommodation tax. Notably, Hawaii already boasts some of the highest tourism taxes globally, with Honolulu, for instance, imposing a 10.25 percent transient accommodations tax and an additional 3 percent surcharge for Oahu.
This initiative is part of a broader strategy to combat over-tourism in Hawaii, following last year’s discussions on implementing a visitor impact fee program. This program would have required travelers to purchase a license to access state parks, forests, hiking trails, and other natural areas, although the specific fee amount remained under consideration.
Governor Green’s current proposal aligns with his earlier advocacy for a $50 entrance fee for tourists visiting the state, as reported by Hawaii News Now. The move reflects ongoing efforts to strike a balance between welcoming tourists and safeguarding the Hawaiian environment.
Hawaii joins other global destinations in exploring visitor fees to address environmental concerns. Venice, Italy, is set to introduce ticket sales for day visitors this spring and plans to limit the number of travelers allowed in tour groups. Similarly, Iceland is contemplating a fee on travelers to support climate and sustainability objectives. As destinations worldwide grapple with the impacts of tourism, such measures aim to strike a sustainable balance between economic interests and environmental preservation.