Special Report

Tourism's Tipping Point



With more than 10 million visitors a year, the skyrocketing expansion of Hawaii’s most lucrative industry is pushing the limits of the state’s beaches, hiking trails – and the state’s aloha spirit.

In an ongoing series, Civil Beat is exploring the future of tourism in Hawaii – and the critical question of how to balance the industry’s growth with sustainability.

10 Million Visitors: Can Hawaii Survive Its Own Popularity?

10 Million Visitors: Can Hawaii Survive Its Own Popularity?

The impact of a growing army of tourists has government leaders and residents questioning how to better manage Hawaii’s largest industry.

9 Charts That Show How Hawaii Tourism Is Changing Cory Lum/Civil Beat

9 Charts That Show How Hawaii Tourism Is Changing

From soaring numbers of visitors to declining rounds of golf, a by-the-numbers look at how the industry’s impacts have grown in Hawaii.

How Kailua Became A Tourist Town Cory Lum/Civil Beat

How Kailua Became A Tourist Town

Stunning beaches, Airbnbs and new developments transformed the town into a tourist hot spot — leaving some locals bemoaning a lost sense of community.

Hawaii Struggles To Maintain Its Worn-Out Hiking Trails Stewart Yerton/Civil Beat

Hawaii Struggles To Maintain Its Worn-Out Hiking Trails

“Honestly, we’re just trying to keep up with demand,” the state’s trails manager said.

Measuring The Costs and Benefits of Windward Oahu Tourism Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Measuring The Costs and Benefits of Windward Oahu Tourism

UH researchers are sending questionnaires to thousands of residents of Kailua, a once-sleepy beach town inundated by tourists in recent years

How These Travel Hotspots Are Trying To Make Tourism Pay Its Own Way Chad Blair/Civil Beat

How These Travel Hotspots Are Trying To Make Tourism Pay Its Own Way

From California to the Galapagos, overwhelmed tourist destinations are experimenting with ways to control the overflow and pay for repairing the damage.

Air Travel’s Carbon Footprint Takes A Big Environmental Toll In Hawaii Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Air Travel’s Carbon Footprint Takes A Big Environmental Toll In Hawaii

Carbon emissions from planes are only now starting to get some of the attention as other troubling side effects caused by soaring numbers of tourists.

Economists: Airbnb Crackdown Will Likely Cause Big Drop In Oahu Tourism Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Economists: Airbnb Crackdown Will Likely Cause Big Drop In Oahu Tourism

The expected decline could cost the island more than $30 million per month in direct spending, based on state tourism data.

This Facebook Campaign Is Teaching Tourists How To Behave In Hawaii Cory Lum/Civil Beat

This Facebook Campaign Is Teaching Tourists How To Behave In Hawaii

Officials believe visitors will follow local customs if they simply understand them.

How ‘Green Fees’ Might Offset The Hidden Costs Of Tourism In Hawaii Cory Lum/Civil Beat

How ‘Green Fees’ Might Offset The Hidden Costs Of Tourism In Hawaii

A growing number of tourism hot spots, ranging from Mallorca to Bhutan to New Zealand, are imposing new taxes and fees on visitors.

Honolulu’s First ‘Climathon’ Tackles The Challenges Of Green Tourism Brittany Lyte

Honolulu’s First ‘Climathon’ Tackles The Challenges Of Green Tourism

The winners of the hackathon proposed giving beach toys a second life as a way to reduce visitors’ environmental footprint.