Please Stay Home

Hawaii doesn?t need any more tourists, says native activist Haunani-Kay Trask

| July/August 2001


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'The idea that there is some pristine place—whether in the Pacific or the Caribbean or some other place in the Third World—where tourists can come and spend their money and have a fantasy 14-day rest from the maniacal life of the First World is false,' says activist and Hawaiian studies professor Haunani-Kay Trask in The Progressive (Dec. 2000). 'My advice is, if you’re thinking about Hawaii, don’t come. Stay right where you are. If you do come, remember that you’re contributing to the oppression of a native people in their home country.'

While businesses in Hawaii benefit from tourism, not all its residents do. Foreign investment in the tourist economy has driven up inflation—and the cost of living. As a result, nearly one-fifth of Hawaii’s resident population is classified as near-homeless. Beach shanties have sprung up throughout the islands, but the state evicts people, Trask says, 'because the image is bad for tourism.'

The transformation of Hawaii from a livable paradise to an industrial resort complex happened quite rapidly. When the occupied territory became a state in 1959, residents outnumbered tourists more than 2 to 1. Today, Hawaii endures nearly 7 million tourists a year—4 million from California alone. Tourists now outnumber residents 6 to 1. They outnumber Native Hawaiians 30 to 1. In fact, the native people are finding it harder and harder to stay on their homeland; they can’t afford it. About half of the Native Hawaiian population now lives stateside.

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