Hawaii looking to introduce a new tax on tourists for climate change

Tourists heading to Hawaii may be slapped with additional entry costs, as the popular holiday destination looks to introduce a climate change fee for visitors.

The new tax, according to the state’s Governor, Josh Green, would be introduced as a way to protect beaches and prevent future wildfires. Mr Green estimates the flat-fee of around $25, which would be charged at hotel check-in or vacation rentals such as holiday homes, and amount to more than $68m annually if passed.

“It’s a very small price to pay to preserve paradise,” Green told the Wall Street Journal, with supporters of the fee insisting that the cost is a small amount given how much damage visitors cause on Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem.

According to the New York Post, the state of Hawaii saw 9.5 million people visit last year alone despite still recovering from the devastating wildfires in Lahaina, Maui, which killed at least 100 people and caused damages worth around US$6 billion.

This tax, if passed, would follow in the footsteps of other tourist hot spots including Venice in Italy, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador and the Pacific island nation of Palau. Most recently, Bali introduced a tourist tax for holiday-makers visiting the popular island.

Earlier this month, the new tax for foreign nationals now means that visitors will be required to pay a fee of 150,000 rupiah (about $15 AUD) upon or before arrival. The extra cost will come on top of the existing $50 visa-on-arrival payment.

In an interview with news.com.au, Indonesia’s Deputy Tourism Minister Ni Made Ayu Marthini told news.com.au said the tourist levy will be used by the government to help preserve Bali’s natural environment, culture and contribute to more sustainable tourism.

“This money will be used in our efforts to establish sustainable tourism,” the minister said.

“Primarily, these funds will be used to improve waste management, preserve cultural sites and the local environment.”

It’s not the first time Hawaii’s Governor, Mr Green, has urged for more costs to be applied to visitors.

In 2022, he pushed for tourists to pay a $50 fee upon entry but the proposal failed to gain the necessary votes.

“All I want to do, honestly, is to make travellers accountable and have the capacity to help pay for the impact that they have,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press in 2023.

“We get between nine and 10 million visitors a year, (but) we only have 1.4 million people living here. Those 10 million travellers should be helping us sustain our environment.”

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