Spending time on Hawaii’s gorgeous beaches or traipsing through its vibrant forests could cost travelers just a little more in the future.

Joining other nations struggling with the heavy burden of over-tourism, Hawaii’s governor, Josh Green, proposed a $25 climate fee on tourists. The bill, HB206 is currently in committee in Hawaii’s legislature. 

What lawmakers call the green fee, or visitor impact fee, is intended to raise funds to help protect beaches, prevent wildfires and offset the repercussions of nearly 10 million visitors per year. Hawaii’s population hovers at 1.6 million, meaning tourists make up the vast majority of people on the islands at any given time.

“A Climate Impact Fee on visitors would provide the needed resources to protect our environment and increase awareness of the impacts of climate change,” Green said. “I believe this is not too much to ask of visitors to our islands… Hawaii’s natural resources – our beaches, forests, and waterfalls – are an essential part of our culture and way of life.”

Hikers on hiking trail, Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii
The proposed tax would help protect Hawaii's beaches, among other things © Rosanna U / Getty Images

The proposed fee would be added to a visitor’s accommodation charge in lieu of raising hotel and resort taxes, which in Hawaii are already some of the highest in the world. 

In the fall of 2023, devastating wildfires raged on both the island of Maui and Hawai’i Island’s Kohala Coast, forcing road closures and evacuations and causing some 115 deaths. The fire in Maui also destroyed the historic town of Lahaina. The subsequent economic and environmental burden has been difficult to recover from, and Governor Green believes this charge on tourists, which is projected to raise $68 million, could help prevent these kinds of emergencies and help supplement the recovery when they do happen.

Governor Green is open to other suggestions, he said. These could include raising the hotel tax or charging for park licenses, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

While the details are still being worked out, it's clear that Hawai’i’s state leadership believes there should be some further charge for visitors.

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