HONOLULU — As Dallas-based Southwest Airlines ramps up its service to Hawaii with 28 daily flights by the end of May, the state is facing a problem in managing the growing number of visitors to the island who spend less money here every year.
“We’re not at a crisis point yet. We’re at a tipping point. We have so many visitors, we need to get serious about creating management programs,” said Frank Haas, a travel industry veteran who is the former marketing director at the Hawaii Tourism Authority and formerly served as an Assistant Dean at the University of Hawaii.
Haas joined James Mak, a professor emeritus at the University of Hawaii and Paul Brewbaker, a longtime economist who worked for the Bank of Hawaii, to write a nine-page white paper last month which details how Hawaii has failed to manage tourism.
“Yeah, I would even say we struck a nerve so to speak. We wrote about what a lot of (local) people are already thinking,” Brewbaker said.
The initial flights will be between Oakland and Honolulu, with additional flights from Oakland and flights from San Jose added in April and May. Tickets are available on Southwest’s website for the new routes.