HONOLULU (KHON2) – The counties are ready to increase hotel room taxes up to 3%. It’s a move that affects not only visitors, but many Hawaiian residents as well.

Tourism experts said Hawaiian hotels are already adding 15% tax to hotel room rates. That will soon rise to 18%.

University of Hawaii economist Sumner La Croix said past increases have not and should not have affected the flow of tourism.

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“If the hotels account for 30% of the travel costs, the additional 3% of the 30% costs only increase the travel costs by 1%. It is very unlikely that this will result in a major change in visitor traffic, ”said La Croix.

The head of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association (HLTA) suggests that doing so could slow down inter-island travel for residents.

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“Remember that there are a lot of stays going on right now, it’s very popular, residents have to pay that extra 3%,” said Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO of HLTA.

He pointed out that this makes Hawaii the most expensive travel destination, or at least in the top two.

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The average nightly rate for a Hawaii hotel room is about $ 30 – add 18% and it goes up to $ 354. Other popular destinations like Las Vegas charge over 13% while San Francisco costs 14%.

State lawmakers passed law that stripped counties of approximately $ 100 million in the temporary housing tax and allowed counties to increase the tax up to 3%. La Croix said it could mean more money for the counties and have more control over it.

“There is a lot to suggest that this additional money will be reinvested in tourism services because we urgently need it. We need to pay more attention to the management of tourist flows, ”said La Croix.

However, Hannemann pointed out that the city council has yet to approve, so there will be a lot of debate over whether the money will be used for tourism services.

“There are always differences in the division of these 3%. Some may want it for tourist purposes only, others may say we want to use it for transportation too, ”he said.