Hawaiian island begs airlines for visitor pause amid fears of overtourism

Hawaiian island begs airlines for visitor pause amid fears of overtourism
The island can’t keep up with tourism demand, says mayor

A Hawaiian island is asking airlines not to fly more tourists to the island as it struggles with a boom in overtourism.

The Hawaiian island of Maui is the second-largest in the archipelago and a tourism hotspot.

As the US begins to emerge from months of Covid restrictions, many Americans are heading to Hawaii and hospitality businesses – which are still limiting customer numbers – are struggling to keep up with demand.

“We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us,” said Maui mayor Michael Victorino at a recent news conference, reports Associated Press. He added that the main airport of Kahului was overcrowded.

“It’s the airlift that really drives all of this. Without airlift, people don’t come.”

Mr Victorino said he has asked airlines to voluntarily limit seats to Maui, but it’s unclear if any would.

In May, almost 630,000 tourists arrived in Hawaii, according to preliminary figures from the tourism board, predominantly from the US. In comparison, just over 9,000 visitors arrived in May 2020.

The US state has had some of the nation’s strictest restrictions, in part due to its location and limited hospital capacity. Restaurants and hotels are still limiting numbers due to social distance rules. At present, almost 60 per cent of Hawaiians are vaccinated.

The mayor’s comments come ahead of Hawaii reopening to vaccinated US visitors. From 8 July, travellers can swerve mandatory 10-day quarantine if they’ve been fully vaccinated two weeks previously. UK visitors remain banned from entering the US, including Hawaii.

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