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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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