The Hawaiian island of Maui has announced that they will now be collecting a hotel tax from all tourists staying there in order to help them deal with the influx of tourists while recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new 3% tax will be collected from all individuals staying at a hotel or short-term rental on the island. According to the Associated Press, this tax comes after lawmakers in the state passed a bill that would change how Hawaii allocated tax revenue to the different counties.
Before this new tax was implemented, the state would collect a 10% hotel tax to be distributed to each county. According to Hawaii News Now, the bill is also cutting Hawaii Tourism Authority’s budget by 24%. Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee told the media outlet that this change would help the tourism industry in Hawaii thrive overall as the world begins to reopen more.
“This tax will help tremendously. Instead of $23 million, we’ll probably receive in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 million,” she explained.
The push for Hawaii’s tourism sector to find new ways to gain more revenue comes as a major increase in travel, and travel plans, have emerged, especially in Maui. Maui’s Mayor Michael Victorino has reached out to certain airlines to start bringing fewer tourists to the island, as they are starting to become overwhelmed with wealthy travelers who want to escape.
“We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us,” Victorino said to the AP.
In May 2021, more than 630,000 visitors flew to Maui. In May 2019, before the pandemic, Maui received about 847,000 tourists, so the state is currently witnessing almost pre-pandemic levels of travel while the US is still very much battling this virus and its variants.
Maui is also one of the easiest places to travel to currently, especially for American citizens. Last week the state removed their requirement for travelers to be tested for Covid-19 before coming to the island; this stipulation only exists for fully vaccinated domestic travelers.
Those who are not vaccinated still have to provide proof of a negative test from a “trusted medical partner site” in order to skip the mandatory quarantine period once they get to the island itself.
Hawaii has also recently expanded their partnership with the company Clear’s Health Pass, which offers vaccinated individuals with an easy and digital way of proving their vaccination status to make travel easy.
Governor David Ige also announced that the state plans to lift all of its Covid-19 restrictions once Hawaii reaches a 70% vaccination rate. Currently 65% of all residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 58% are fully vaccinated.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.