Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

Lobbyists Celebrate Hawaii’s $23 Eco-Boost: Climate Fee Unveils Sustainable Paradise

Environment, Locations, Nature Lovers, Popular Attractions, Tourism, Travel | 0 comments

Joy Delosa

Written by Joy Delosa

In a move aimed at nurturing its natural beauty and welcoming visitors responsibly, Hawaii is unveiling a groundbreaking $23 climate fee for tourists. This forward-thinking initiative seeks not only to address the challenges of overtourism but also to foster a collective sense of stewardship towards the stunning Hawaiian environment.

Charged upon hotel check-in or holiday rental booking, the fee is deemed “a nominal cost for preserving paradise,” according to Governor Josh Green in a conversation with the Wall Street Journal.

hawaii, usa

The genesis of the climate fee lies in a collaborative response to the escalating concerns about the impact of tourism on Hawaii’s delicate ecosystems. Local leaders and environmental advocates rallied behind the idea, recognizing it as a positive step toward achieving sustainability.

The evidence supporting the effectiveness of such fees in other destinations has added weight to Hawaii’s decision. It’s not just about good intentions; the initiative is already showcasing tangible outcomes and positive changes. By implementing a modest fee, Hawaii aims to strike the perfect balance between welcoming tourists and safeguarding its natural wonders.

High Rise Buildings Near Beach, Hawaii
Honolulu City on Ocean Shore in Hawaii

The strategic approach goes beyond Hawaii’s shores; it presents a replicable model that can inspire other tourist destinations facing similar challenges. The $23 fee is designed to be reasonable, ensuring that it acts as a catalyst for conservation efforts without deterring travellers. This creates an optimistic outlook for other regions, encouraging them to explore similar solutions adapted to their unique circumstances.

Recognizing the positive impact of Hawaii’s proposed climate fee on tourists, which aims to generate approximately $68 million annually, it is crucial to delve into its allocation and expected outcomes. This fee, a scaled-back version of previous proposals, is intended to fund essential environmental initiatives through the issuance of bonds. Governor Josh Green advocates allocating a significant portion of the proceeds to a state disaster recovery fund, fostering confidence among potential investors and supporting significant projects crucial for Hawaii’s climate resilience.

Brown Mountains, Kapaʻa, HI, United States

In contrast, Care for Aina Now, a local advocacy coalition that actively lobbied the Legislature last year for a green fee, emphasized in a recent statement that addressing the challenging $358 million gap estimated by Conservation International may not have a singular solution. The coalition supports an open-minded approach to exploring all available funding options and appreciates Governor Green’s ongoing commitment to implementing a climate impact fee for visitors. They endorse various proposals, including those presented by the Governor, that show a substantial commitment to closing the financial gap. Meanwhile, Governor Green has reservations about a green-fee model suggested by legislative leaders last year, which would involve charging visitors at trails and other sites, similar to the approach at Hanauma Bay on Oahu, deeming it insufficient for addressing the substantial funding needs.

However, the fee faces opposition, with critics expressing concerns about potential negative impacts on tourism and economic development. Governor Green addresses these concerns by emphasizing the fee’s vital role in disaster insurance, a necessary component for attracting major investments such as energy companies and condominium builders. Whether implemented as a flat $25 fee or a percentage increase in the existing Transient Accommodations Tax, currently at 10.25%, the challenge lies in finding a balanced solution that addresses environmental needs while considering the potential impact on both tourists and the local community.

People Surfing on Sea during Sunset

The proposed introduction of a $23 climate fee in Hawaii, which is currently in the proposal stage, is perceived by the industry as a proactive response to potential challenges associated with overtourism. If implemented, the fee could effectively address potential issues related to overtourism, generating essential funds, mitigating environmental impact, and striking a balance between welcoming visitors and preserving Hawaii’s natural beauty.

Notably, Hawaii’s proposal aligns with similar measures taken by other popular destinations worldwide, including Greece, Italy (specifically Venice), the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Palau, and New Zealand, who have all introduced fees targeting tourists, ranging from $1 to $100. This strategic approach reflects the collective recognition among tourist hotspots to address environmental and infrastructural strains caused by large visitor numbers, according to a report by The New York Post. The global movement towards implementing such fees underscores the shared commitment to finding sustainable solutions for preserving the natural beauty and cultural integrity of these cherished destinations.

Aerial View of a City and Mountains in Hawaii, USA


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