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Trouble in Hawaiian Paradise: A Realist's Point of View
Newer, more exotic, less expensive destinations are changing the landscape of options for travelers. These new destinations (like Laos, Slovenia, and Mongolia) have changed people's approach to travel. In most cases, it is not only more cost effective but also better to go elsewhere. Hawaii has always been expensive. That has not changed. What has is that tourists who don't necessarily want or have to come to Hawaii choose other destinations with similar climate, like Mexico and Costa Rica. These places are certainly more affordable, but the cultural experience is quite different. Many travelers will still pay the extra cost so they can experience "Hawaii." Others will not.
While Hawaii's appeal still exists, the condition of the ocean and diversity of life have worsened significantly. Fishing, diving, and snorkeling are simply not as rewarding as they used to be. I know this because my free diving experiences in Fiji starkly contrasted to diving here in Hawaii. It made me realize how other waters are far better preserved -- partly because fewer people explore them, but also because there are specific efforts to preserve the biodiversity that we do not have in place here or do not enforce.
Which brings me to the heart of the matter: a realistic solution. There is much that needs to be done to supply the islands with a healthy economy led by tourism. Residents and visitors must be more proactive about preserving the Hawaiian brand and the state's unique ecosystem. Making local sites more accessible is a step in the direction and, with the addition of the Superferry and the rail system that was just passed, locals and tourists can travel with greater ease.
I am an idealist. I always have been. There is no realist in me, so I will likely never admit this beautiful state is suffering even if we're right in the thick of a recession. I would rather not feed the negative view of Hawaii, as the WSJ article does.