Hawaii’s Democrat governor wants to slap tourists with a ‘climate impact fee’

Repackaged with disaster at the fore, Hawaii’s governor made another pitch to charge tourists to subsidize his green agenda.

Since Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) made the step up from lieutenant governor in 2022, his state’s Democratically-controlled legislature has twice failed to pass initiatives to tack on added fees for tourists in the name of climate. That didn’t stop him from issuing yet another call to action in his January State of the State speech he suggested wasn’t “too much to ask of visitors…”

Now, the measure that would impose a $25 fee on all visitor check-ins, no matter the size of the tourist party, was working its way through a committee in the state legislature.

“This modest fee — far less than the resort fees or other taxes visitors have paid for years — will generate more than $68 million every year from visitors,” claimed Green in his address. “I believe this is not too much to ask of visitors to our islands.”

He reiterated his position at a press conference in early February where he said, “If we don’t do that, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to come and do large-scale business, like energy companies, people that build condominiums.”

“There’s a lot more to it than just having a stream of dollars to fix things. It’s also about the future economies that we bring,” the governor argued with his state marking six months since wildfires devastated Lahaina killing dozens and displacing even more residents.

According to the legislation, the additional $25 tax would be put toward a “Climate health and environmental action special fund,” with a wide range of purposes including wildfire and flood prevention, coral reef protection, “Perpetuation of indigenous Hawaiian land, water, ocean, and cultural site stewardship practices” and the vague, “Preparation of climate crisis prevention and response strategies and plans,” among other purposes.

“It’s a very small price to pay to preserve paradise,” Green told the Wall Street Journal having previously pushed for a fee between $40 and $50.

If the $25 flat fee proved unsavory, the Honolulu Civil Beat reported that the governor was also open to adding a “percentage increase to the state’s existing Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT), which is currently 10.25%.”

The outlet, which made note of the repeated failures to impose a new fee, also reported on the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Associations’s opposition to an increase on TAT, “saying it’s already been raised as high as visitors are willing to pay.”

“I don’t have any concerns that it will discourage travelers to Hawaii,” contended Green. “In fact, I think it will increase people’s interest because they’ll see that we are committed to protecting this beautiful place.”

With a population of around 1.5 million, Hawaii was said to receive roughly 9.5 million visitors annually and, according to the Daily Mail, it wasn’t alone in adopting a climate fee. In 2019, New Zealand imposed a $21 fee on international tourists and this year Greece aimed to replace their hotel tax with a new “climate crisis resilience fee.”

Kevin Haggerty

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