Maui Is So Overrun by Tourists It's Imposing a New Tax on Them
If you can't pay, stay away.
Tourists love Hawaii, and who can blame them? It's a beautiful place full of good people, good food, and great weather. And for Americans, there's not even a passport required.
Hawaii has had some very tight COVID-19 regulations in place throughout the pandemic but has seen an overwhelming influx of visitors ever since loosening them: Hawaii fully lifted COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers just last week.
Small islands like Maui can only handle so many people at a time, so, in an effort to curb the number of people visiting, lawmakers are targeting tourists' wallets.
In early July, despite not being fully reopened, Maui saw such an overwhelming influx of visitors that its mayor, Michael Victorino, asked airlines to scale back on the number of people they were bringing to the island, per the Associated Press. That didn't work, so now the island is planning to start collecting a 3% hotel and short-term rental tax from tourists through a new law, the Associated Press reports.
Prior to the passing of this new bill, Hawaii as a whole was collecting a 10% hotel tax and distributing its revenue to each county based on the size of its population. Oahu, for example, got the biggest share because it has the most residents.
Now, counties will be paid based on tourists per capita—so how many visitors stay there, not how many people live there. Further, Maui, as well as any Hawaiian island that wishes to implement this new surcharge, will be able to pocket an additional 3% for local needs. These will likely include improvements to roads, infrastructure, water treatment plants, and building more affordable housing, benefiting both locals and visitors.
While 3% might not sound like a lot, Maui stands to benefit a ton from it.
"Instead of $23 million, we'll probably receive in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 million," Alice Lee, Maui County council chair, told the AP.