Tourism is one of the top three sectors of the state’s economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of Hawaii’s total GDP.
Tourism accounted for almost $2.8 billion in 2016, and the state expects that to grow to $3.3 billion by 2021.
Tourism is one, but the state has not been the top tourist destination in Hawaii for years.
But the economic impact of tourism on the state is one reason why lawmakers are looking into whether it should be made more attractive to people who visit other states.
“Our tourism industry has done a great job in Hawaii, but we have to do a better job in other parts of the country,” said Rep. Michaela Carroll, D-Waipahu.
“We need to look at this issue in other areas of the economy and how we can get more tourism jobs in Hawaii.”
In a recent budget proposal, the state said it would spend $10 million a year to help attract tourists, but it has not provided specifics on how it would do that.
The bill also proposes to eliminate the state lottery and the lottery sales tax.
Carroll said that if Hawaii wants to attract tourists to its state, it needs to attract the best talent to the state.
“We have to be able to attract people who are passionate about this state, and they will stay for a long time,” she said.
“They want to live here for a lifetime, and we want to make sure we have a good long-term plan.”
A growing industryThe state of Hawaii is a major source of tourism revenue for the state, which is one factor driving the growth of the tourism industry.
The tourism industry is expected to grow by about 50 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Hawaii Tourism Infrastructure Coalition.
But Carroll said that isn’t enough to make up for the fact that tourism revenue is not a primary part of the budget.
The state also needs to be careful about how it handles tax breaks and other incentives that are offered to people visiting other states, she said, and not just to tourists.
The Hawaii Tourism Initiative, which was formed in 2016 to help manage the tourism revenue, is looking into ways to help promote tourism in other states and beyond, said Dan Kohn, its executive director.
But Kohn said it does not know if other states could provide similar support.
Hawaii is also looking at whether it could increase the number of tourists it accepts, including those who come from overseas.
“If we want more visitors, we have got to make a decision as to whether or not we want a lot of visitors coming from other countries,” Carroll said.
That is especially important if the state wants to remain competitive with other states in attracting tourists.