How Some Tourists are Ruining Hawaii Travel for Everyone

Since Hawaii travel reopened, have you noticed a big difference in the attitude of some visitors? We have. While the majority are among the most thoughtful and considerate, there’s a change for the worse we are definitely seeing more of.

“Revenge travel” (getting revenge on canceled travel plans during COVID) has morphed into an attitude of entitlement for some. It was creeping in long before COVID, and has since become much worse. You may have seen them too. These travelers can be demanding and have higher than reasonable expectations for their Hawaii vacations. In fact, they can ruin Hawaii travel for the rest of us. Read on for some gory, unfortunate details.

(We see it, for example, in aggressive and inappropriate driving behavior.)

Some might say entitled tourists have been encouraged by the travel industry itself.

Think about the “us vs. them ”situation of upgrades, premium classes, and exclusive features that have become so pervasive throughout travel, whether it be on airlines, or in accommodations and car rentals.

This arose out of the travel businesses’ desires for more income based on elite offerings. The industry has over-indulged those willing to spend more, or who travel more, and in doing so has helped, at least in part, to spawn the entitled tourist phenomenon. Now it has to some degree backfired on them, and those in the industry often resent the very people who they egged on.

When some travelers do not get the premium service associated with the us-and-them culture in which we find ourselves, they feel free to act out here in Hawaii. We can tell you as residents, that when you see enough of it, it’s even easy to start to think that entitled Hawaii tourists are more pervasive than in fact they really are.

Unrealistic Hawaii vacation expectations.

When some visitors’ expectations aren’t met, there can be problems. It can ruin the entire travel experience, both for the Hawaii visitor, and for those with whom they interact. Case in point.

Your editors were seated inside a Starbucks here in Hawaii this week. One visitor walked in and demanded to know the address of the mall-based Starbucks. When the employee said they did not know the physical address of the mall, the visitor huffed off uttering not-so-nice expletives.

Within five minutes, another visitor walked in with several non-Starbucks drinks in their hand and asked for a tray for their beverages. The employee said that they do not provide trays for non-Starbucks beverages. And in this situation too, the visitor left, irate about how they were accommodated.

Recently at Hanalei, the surf was up with significant undertow, and some young children and their parents were in the ocean. The lifeguard started yelling over the speaker for them to move closer to the pier where conditions were far safer. They refused and the lifeguard became angrier, trying to keep them safe while they disobeyed his warnings. It was as though these visitors were thinking, “we paid for this and will stay where we want to be.” The exasperated lifeguard said he simply wanted them to have a safe vacation.

This incident took the cake, literally.

The examples above are nothing compared to what happened Tuesday on Maui, when a visitor-related issue began at Moose McGillycuddy’s restaurant. Police were called regarding a 38-year-old Massachusetts’ resident who refused to either pay her bill or leave the restaurant. After Maui Police arrived, she agreed to pay the bill, but then still would not leave Moose McGillycuddys.

The visitor was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct and refusing to leave, and was being transported to the police station in Kihei. While getting into the vehicle, they bit the police officer. Alcohol may have been a factor.

Charges against the woman, identified by police as Corey Campbell, now include assault on the officer in addition to the prior offenses.

Hawaii air rage incident.

So what comes next? Do they bite a flight attendant on the way home? What airline would want them as a guest? It reminded us of the scary Hawaii air rage incident that happened recently.

Your comments to this point.

“A key issue seems to be that many tourism-reliant businesses market the entire state as a paradisiacal theme park. This leaves tourists disappointed when locals do not act like theme park employees, and locals are insulted to be treated as such. Hawai’i is not Six Flags; it is a unique combination of cultures that over-tourism is killing. ” (Robbos)

“As a long-time local, I can tell you that there’s nothing that will make everyone happy. People seem to want to be miserable these days. It breaks my heart to see this lack of Aloha and discord. There’s nowhere on Earth like Hawaii. ” (Pam)

“Those that work in the service industry here are seriously over it & mentally exhausted from dealing with that same disrespectful & entitled attitude from visitors. Can you blame them? Travel has changed for the worst unfortunately. More & more travelors are traveling to trample & conquer. Sad! ” (GR)

Yes, Hawaii is authentic.

Pam is right. With all of its problems, Hawaii is still unique. It is about the people, aloha, nature, the environment. These remain the isolated islands in the world and we welcome visitors for an incredible journey away from everyday life that’s different than anything you’ll find elsewhere.

Well, Hawaii is not an amusement park.

You’ve said it many times. People who live and work here aren’t like Disney employees. As an industry, Hawaii travel wants to please visitors, and we hope visitors appreciate who we are and what we have to offer.

Hawaii, unlike the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, is not a manufactured experience crafted as a giant park for tourists. If you expect that, you’re in for almost certain disappointment. Hawaii is real, and primarily it is the home of its residents. Step into our real world. Visitors impact the lives of those who live here.

When you ask how Hawaii residents feel about visitors.

We were recently asked “Are visitors really hated by most locals? Are the majority of visitors as horrible and rude as I’m reading on Facebook? There were so many locals making so many claims of how much they hate visitors. ”

Visitors can come to feel like they are being lumped in with a bunch of bad eggs. And Hawaii residents can have a similar take.

With the return to peak tourism, it’s easy to see more traffic, crowding and frustration. Hawaii is getting ready to welcome over 10 million annual visitors. That, in relation to our total population of a meager 1.4 million.

Please step into our world, gently. We live here, with Hawaii’s flora and fauna. When you come here to visit, we’re happy to share our ways of life, when you’re open to it. This is the real world, and Hawaii is not close to perfect, nor do we try to pretend it is. Hawaii is real. Please join us in treating Hawaii as a jewel and help respect and protect it for all of us and for future generations.

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