Big Island Polls

Big Island Poll #4 results: 60% say there are ‘too many’ tourists

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We asked: “How do you feel about the number of Big Island tourists?”

The majority of you answered: “Too Many.”

With 1,370 people voting in Big Island Now’s Poll #4, 60 percent said there were too many tourists, causing residents and the environment to be negatively impacted.

One Facebook user commented: “Way too many. We should NEVER be outnumbered 10-1.”

The Big Island Now Poll #4 results:

  • Too Many: 827 (60 percent)
  • Just Right: 343 (25 percent)
  • Not Enough: 200 (15 percent)

One Facebook user wrote: “I say bring them more… support Small Hawaiian businesses, moms and pops… Make Hawaiʻi safe 🙏 and Let Aloha Spirit reign ✨️ I rather see Americans support Hawaiʻi, then Mexico ;)”


Wendy J. Laros, President and CEO of Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, said business is good, but many local businesses haven’t been able to get back to full capacity because of a labor shortage. In West Hawai‘i, tourism is one of the main economic drivers.

There were 148,376 visitors to Hawai‘i Island in January. Compared to 2019, the benchmark year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a .7% increase, with 147,402 visitors in January 2019, according to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

However, the tourism numbers still lag the booming start to 2020, when 163,500 tourists came to the Big Island in January (nearly 10 percent higher than one year earlier). Less than two months later, the global pandemic caused the screeching halt to the island’s tourism.

What is good, Laros said, is when visitor spending is up.

Visitor spending was $260.1 million in January, up just 2.7 percent compared to January 2019 when visitors spent $253.3 million and prices were lower.


One commenter on the poll, identified as RS, said this is an issue that needs a multi-approach solution, which includes “educating ALL tourists while they are flying into the State.”

“A video, reusable placards/brochures… anything that tells them how to behave and other important stuff. Make it written in the top three languages of our visitors,” RS wrote.

RS also suggested revamping the “paper” importation form that is handed out on the plane.

“It is useless! …Not enforceable, waste of time and paper. Make this electronic when you purchase a ticket. And finally, we need those people living here to understand that taking care of the land and acting responsible in all aspects of their life should be a top priority. This is their responsibility, too. How many abandoned vehicles does it take before we seriously address this? How many innocent people need to be killed by drivers under the influence of alcohol, or other drugs?”

A Facebook user wrote: “It has become painfully obvious that Hawaiʻi’s infrastructure can’t handle the current level of tourism. Protecting the ʻĀina should [be] the main concern not greed. Diversifying the economy would benefit local business much more than promoting tourism.”


Teri Leicher, managing partner of Jack’s Diving Locker, believes people need to think outside of their box when it comes to tourism.

“If I go anywhere outside of my own community, I’m a visitor. Putting it all on tourists is unfair,” Leicher said.

She thinks crowd control is hard to manage. For her, it’s frustrating that the places they used to hike to or dive at are being closed off because of overcrowding and liability concerns.

“We need to manage it better,” she said.

Be sure to check out the Big Island Now’s next 30-second poll on Monday, when we ask: “For a Big Island dinner party, what Hawaiian favorite food is a must for the menu?”

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