Since 1998 the Hawaiian Tourism Authority (HTA) – the state’s premier tourism agency – primarily focuses on marketing Hawaii to the world. But in 2019 when the state set a record of over 10 million tourists, the milestone taxed residents and caused significant Environmental impact on hiking trails, beaches and Holy places.

During the pandemic, the agency’s new head, John De Fries, called the time “huliau”which means a transition period in Hawaiian. De Fries, the first native Hawaiian to play this role, felt it was the perfect moment to reset Hawaii in a way that would combine modern technology and indigenous wisdom to protect and promote the island’s future its state-approved sustainability goals by 2030.

As the nation’s first state Declare a climate emergency, Hawaiian residents have long felt the urgency for better tourism management strategies, with a majority believing that the island was run for tourists at the expense of locals, according to a recent report for tourists HTA survey. Then HTA expanded beyond marketing for the first time and developed the most comprehensive, sustainable and regenerative Tourism plan, with three new focuses that prioritized Hawaiian culture, community, and the Native American environment. It cited a $ 7.5 million raise to aid that effort.

But just as they finally started their recovery strategies – and Tourism locks open after the economic collapse – the legislature introduced in a last-minute power-and-replacement step House bill 862Stripping funding and responsibilities from HTA in April. In one of the earlier changed Versions of the invoiceLegislature cut all funding for all indigenous Hawaiian organizations, cultural programs, and environmental nonprofits that it had funded for years, causing immediate turmoil in the community and beyond 200 public testimonials in opposition.

“You want to use us, you want to take everything out of our house, our resources and our way of life and give us little or nothing back,” said Mapuana Da Silva, director of the cultural non-profit organization based in Kailua Hika’alani.

According to Maggie Kahoilua, a Kona-based philanthropist, the bill continues the cycle of occupied powers destroying national identity and further obliterating knowledge of the Hawaiian kingdom. “A lot of people don’t even know that the Kingdom of Hawaii exists, and that’s what they prefer.”

Senator Glenn Wakai, who supports the bill, said HTA should focus on its original purpose of brand marketing and that the agency needs to be more accountable in its spending.

According to De Fries, this complaint is not entirely unfounded, but appears to come from a previous agency that once operated the Subject of a blister audit. Nowadays, all of their business is posted on the website as he reports to a Senate-approved 12-member board of directors.

Pending a decision by Governor David Ige, if the new bill were to enter into force, it would zero the HTA’s 2023 budget and the agency would have to go through a rigorous process to justify lawmakers why they did so Do should receive general funding while also requiring government approval for all future contracts and purchases. Even if vetoed, another bill, HB 200, threatens to thwart its funding.

This has led the agency to try until July 1st to use special funds for cultural organizations so that the money does not flow back to the state. Meanwhile, their multi-year plans to protect the environment and communities are in the air.

“At a time when we need to be smoother, faster and more agile, we now have all these extra weights …” said De Fries.

“[But] At the end of the day, the only believable criticism is a better idea. That’s why we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves, we just have to get more creative. “

“If this law is passed, we will return to unhindered tourism without a specific accountability mechanism to ensure significant investment in ponos’ environmental and cultural stewardship,” said Mahina Paishon-Duarte, a representative for Aina Aloha Economic Futures, a community-based grassroots organization that believes the voices, values, and experiences of Hawaii’s native people must help shape economic recovery.

“We deserve better. We will not go back to a model that negatively affects the health of the ‘aina. has had an impact [land] and our quality of life, ”she said.