Maui County Council passed a moratorium on building permits for new housing for visitors to South and West Maui in a 6-2 vote on Friday.
Council member Kelly Takaya King who introduced the measure, known as Bill 60, said it prioritizes environmental sustainability and the quality of life for residents.
“The increased development of visitor accommodation and the related increase in tourism have negative impacts on the environment,” according to the wording of the bill. The bill also states that visitor accommodation should be limited for an interim period “to preserve the county’s environment, mitigate climate change and work towards resilience.”
The temporary hiatus on new visitor accommodation in areas such as Lahaina and KÄ«hei is intended to give the county time to implement critical long-term plans and provide political direction for day-to-day decision-making. to mitigate climate change and work on the resilience mentioned.
The moratorium follows the intentions of resolution 21-18, also presented by King, âExpressing support for sustainable tourism, emphasizing quality over quantityâ, which was unanimously adopted by the council. February 5.
“It’s time to act on a new vision for managed tourism,” said King, who chairs the council’s climate action, resilience and environment committee, which recommended passage of Bill 60. âWhile we support the Hawai’i Tourism Authority’s commitment to ‘regenerative tourism’, we also need to redefine what ‘responsible tourism’ looks like moving forward. “
King said residents, industry officials and government leaders all recognize the importance of reassessing the role of tourism.
According to recent news reports, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said that âMaui is first a community and then a vacation destination,â saying he would like to see a break from tourism, King noted. In a statement released Thursday, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority said: “While it is not legal to cap or limit the number of people who visit our state, limiting the supply of accommodation can be just as effective. . “
Last year, HTA found that residents increasingly view the tourism industry as having a negative impact on themselves and their families. HTA’s Destination Management Action Plan for Maui, released in March, set a goal of “rebuilding, redefining and redefining the direction of tourism.”
HTA recently released âResident Sentiment Survey 2021 Highlights,â which cites data showing that 73% of Maui County attendees are less than enthusiastic about additional hotel, condominium, or timeshare units in Maui.
The intention of Bill 60 is to encourage residents to participate in the process in the future to provide advice to local government and the tourism industry, King said.
She also said that while the county does not have the authority to prevent airlines from bringing in more visitors, it does have authority over building permits and accommodation development.
âOur hands are not tied and the council is taking action where it can,â said King, who is in his third term and occupies the council’s residence in South Maui.
“We encourage the administration to work with the council on a break from the expansion of tourism and to engage with the council for better long-term planning.”