Do Maui Locals Hate Tourists?

In the past few years there has been mounting concern among Maui locals about the ethics and sustainability of these tourism trends.

Many Maui locals have acted indifferently towards tourists, a far cry from the traditional lei greeting which characterized Hawaii.

Here, we will discuss some of the reasons for this indifference and how to manage your relationship with locals when visiting Maui.

Aerial view over West Maui's coastline.

Do Maui Locals Hate Tourists?

People from all over the world visit Maui each year, and the number of tourists have only increased year after year.

The average population of Maui Locals itself is around 1.5 million. In 2019 they received almost 10 million tourists. But in recent years, Maui locals have been grumpy towards tourists visiting their beautiful island.

Much of this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly affected the island. 

During the pandemic locals voiced their opinion that tourists should be not visit the island until the pandemic ended.

Although precautionary measures were taken by the city to reduce the inflow of tourists, it still wasn’t satisfactory to the locals, hence the flare up against tourists.

However, the majority of the locals do not hate tourism.

Three Views of Tourism

Maui’s locals’ thoughts on tourism are in 3 categories…

  1. “absolutist” this set of people wants tourism to end;
  2. “the status quo group” this set of people believes tourism should remain the lifeblood of the economy;
  3. and “the compromisers,” this set of people think that tourism can and should exist in concert with other sectors like farming, retail, healthcare, and culture.

So not every local wants tourism to end. They just wanted to minimize the number of tourists.

Why are Maui Locals Indifferent Towards Tourists?

There are a few reasons why Maui residents do not like tourists and tourism, some of the reasons are:

1. Environmental Protection and Preservation

Tourists visit Maui because of its beach sand, beautiful waters, warm weather, calm atmosphere, and aesthetic scenery.

Unfortunately, so many tourists want to visit Maui that they are gradually destroying the environment. Some tourists litter the environment, even the beaches they enjoy, and such angers the locals.

2. They believe tourists are mocking their traditions

Many of the clothes local wear on sacred occasions have been imitated and bought cheaply by tourists.

Some tourists also trespass into locations that are considered sacred by locals to take pictures, and end up disrespecting local traditions.

There was even an issue in Hawaii, where tourists were tampering with an endangered monk seal.

3. High cost of living

Because of tourism, Maui’s cost of living has increased a great deal.

Many of them have to work 2 – 5 jobs to make ends meet and provide for their families.

Tourism has made it close to impossible for an average Maui citizen to live there. When you pay your hotel and condo fees, the price of houses in Maui spikes so much that even Maui Locals find it hard to live in Maui.

4. Tourists not abiding by local laws

Many locals find it disgusting that the same laws they are mandated to obey are casually disobeyed by tourists.

Many tourists litter, cross boundaries they are not supposed to cross, park where parking is not allowed, and even drink and drive.

What are Maui’s steps toward these behaviors?

The Government has also taken some steps to mitigate tourists’ poor behavior.

A few of these steps are:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Maui reduced the inflow of tourists to the city. Only those with a negative test and have been vaccinated are allowed on the island, and they have to be quarantined for 14 days.
  • The Government has restricted foreigners from touching the sacred items of Maui, with fines as a penalty.
  • Signboards have been placed in off-limits areas, anyone caught trespassing will be fined.

Tourists are expected to respect the ideas, religion, law, and culture of the locals. It is advisable not to argue with locals whenever they correct you on something they see as wrong.

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