Hawaii Considers a New $25 Tourist Tax To Offset $16 Billion in Damages From Maui Wildfires in 2023

(NationalUSNews.com) — Hawaii is still recovering from the devastating fires of August 2023, when the town of Lahaina was destroyed. Yet, over the course of 2023, Hawaii has hosted over 9.5 million tourists, as the popularity of tropical vacations never seems to wane. Hawaii Governor Josh Green has recently spoken out in support of a new bill that will enact a climate tax on visitors to help protect the state’s natural beauty.

This is the state’s second attempt at a climate tax, but last year’s $50 charge for visitors to enjoy Hawaii’s beaches and parks did not pass. This new tax would be an additional tax of $25 on what they refer to as “transient accommodations”. That would mean hotels, resorts, and other vacation rentals, but would not apply to schools, medical facilities, or emergency shelters.

Governor Green says that the climate tax could bring in as much as $68 million per year if the current rate of roughly 9 to 10 million annual visitors persists. The tax would not apply to residents. He added that the climate fee is very low compared to all the resort fees and other taxes that vacationers pay each year, and he believes that it is not too much to ask that people who come to enjoy Hawaii take some responsibility for the upkeep and care of the islands as well.

With this climate tax, Hawaii will join other places that have enacted similar measures. The Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, and Venice, Italy, among many others, have levied similar fees to help protect those popular but environmentally delicate places from the ravages of tourism. This tax would be the first of its kind in America. Some are concerned that such a tax would violate U.S. constitutional standards of free travel, preferring the idea of passes or licenses to visit parks or use trails. If the measure passes, some of the proceeds may be used to help repair the damage left by last year’s fires, as well as fund more fire protection services.

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