HIITI TRAVELING CO-CEO MICHAEL MULLINS, who led the industry’s transition to an increasingly “clean” model, has defended the industry as a “must-have” destination in the region and the US.
The US has been hit hard by the impact of climate change, with record wildfires ravaging the country, and tourism numbers plummeting.
Mullins, who is the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s CEO, told The New York Times that the “soul” of Hawaii is one of the reasons tourism was the No. 1 industry in the country in 2020, according to the most recent data from the Tourism Industry Association.
“We’ve got this beautiful, magical place that we’re the best at.
It’s not like we’re not the best,” he said.
However, there are concerns that this is the beginning of the end for Hawaii.
In January, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it was halting the construction of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with Australia.
And while the US is one the biggest investors in Hawaii, its tourism industry is facing a severe downturn.
A new study from The New Economic Growth Foundation (NEFG), which was conducted in partnership with The Hawaii Times, found that the state’s tourism industry has contracted for the fourth straight year.
Despite this, Mullins said that the industry is resilient and continues to thrive.
He said the region will see a return to more traditional, sustainable tourism, with a focus on the cultural and heritage elements of the island.
But that may not be enough to satisfy tourists.
With a lack of options, Mollins said there is a need for more than just a simple, one-time visit to Hawaii.
“People need to know that it’s OK to come to Hawaii, that it is a place to go,” he told the paper.
“[They] need to understand the culture, the history, and they need to really be in Hawaii for the long term.”
Mollins told the Times that he was confident the industry will thrive in the face of challenges in the future.
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