Faculty from UH’s School of Travel Industry Management are playing a major part in the effort, which involves sending out thousands of surveys to residents and conducting interviews with hundreds more visitors and residents at popular Windward beaches and shopping areas.
Thousands of area residents started receiving the surveys last week. The researchers sent questionnaires to about 4,500 Kailua residents and 1,900 in Waimanalo. They include questions that let people weigh in on numerous issues, like the extent to which tourism has created good-paying jobs, improved the standard of living on one hand and increased traffic and housing costs on the other.
Visitors are asked questions about topics like how they heard about Kailua, how they traveled there, how much money they spent and where they stayed while in the area.
Dan Spencer, a UH travel industry professor with a specialty in survey research and data analytics, said the five surveys being conducted for the project are the most he’s done for a single study.
“We’re up to our eyeballs” in material, he said.
The Windward communities have seen dramatic increases in tourists in recent years, a trend that has stimulated economic growth in Kailua’s town as well as a backlash from many residents who say government officials have not done enough to manage the growth.
Although property owners have benefitted from renting properties to vacationers and Kailua town has grown into a bustling commercial center of trendy boutiques, many residents have said they feel overwhelmed by the rapid changes to the community.
Spencer said the study’s results are expected by the end of the year.