Noting that visitor arrival numbers in the islands in 2019 were nearly 10.5 million, Senate Bill 2319 seeks to halt commercial tour operations from operating on Sundays.

The bill would apply to tour vehicle operators and tour aircraft operations in all four counties.

The bill, backed by state Sens. Laura Thielen, Russell Ruderman and Gil Riviere, points to a recent University of Hawaii publication that says that Hawaii has hit a so-called “tipping point” of overtourism, “as tourists are on the verge of overwhelming the state’s resources, damaging the quality of life for residents, and negatively impacting general economic vitality.”

Magnum Helicopters aircraft taxis back to hangar after around the island tour.
A Magnum Helicopters chopper at its Oahu hanger. A new bill aims to end such tours on Sundays. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

The penalties for violating SB 2319, should it become law, range from a first-time offense of $2,500 to a third or subsequent offense resulting in revocation for a year of any certificate, license, or permit issued to the tour operator.

SB 2319, which has a hearing Monday, observes that the Honolulu City Council has passed bills to ban nearly all commercial activity at certain beach parks, that Kauai county is regulating and reducing tourism in specific locations, that Maui county has regulated commercial activity in its parks, and that the Department of Land and Natural Resources has prohibited commercial activity in certain areas.

“Furthermore, residents in many communities across the state have repeatedly sought restrictions on helicopter tours that generate excessive noise,” the bill states.

There are several bills before the 2020 Hawaii Legislature pertaining to tour aircraft operations, in light of increasing complaints and fatal crashes.

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