“We are not Disneyland. People live here,” says Kai Duponte, a Native Hawaiian who was born and raised on Maui, responding to the unprecedented numbers of tourists to the island. “Although no one wants to stop tourism altogether, when we cannot enjoy our own home due to the crowds, we realize that we have become second-class citizens to the tourism industry.”
Indeed, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority data confirms Maui’s July arrivals at Kahului Airport are over 345,000, which is a 23 percent increase from the same month in 2019. Current projections show that August will be 32 percent over the pre-pandemic high and September will reach an astounding 36 percent increase. Driving this massive influx of tourism is a growing number of flights to Hawai’i as well as more competition by airlines to offer ever-cheaper fares.