Friday, September 18, 2009

Hawaii - destroying Tourism

Let's cut to the chase.

Hawaii's tourism industry is reeling under the effects of the most severe recession since the Great Depression - and yet, a few demagogic zealots are allowed to pursue their anti-Shark witch hunt in total impunity and to further destroy the tourism industry in the process.

The recent ban of Shark tours in Maui is preventing any future developments that could integrate the island into the global 300 million Shark viewing industry.
Due to stupid legislative language, it may well also destroy one of the island's principal tourism attractions, the Shark Dive in the venerable Maui Ocean Center. Land-based Shark tours, i.e. diving with Sharks in aquaria, are clearly the next big development in Shark tourism and Maui's tourism industry is now firmly out of that loop forever.
Talk about shooting oneself in the foot!

Oahu could have been the great winner of that short-sighted decision, like the Bahamas who became the world's foremost Shark diving destination after Florida banned Fish feeding in 2002.

Instead, the same zealots are on the verge of having a similar ban enacted by the Honolulu City Council.
That ban would effectively destroy one of the island's multimillion tourism attractions, the two existing Shark viewing operations that go and look at Galapagos and Sandbar Sharks 3 miles offshore from the safety of purpose-built cages. That's 40,000 tourists each year contributing in excess of 80 millions to local tourism.

This is what you get when extremists are left free to pursue their evil, and stupid agendas.

Let's be very clear about this, lest anybody later claim that they just didn't know better.

This is not about
  • the great cultural, historical, and spiritual significance for many Native Hawaiians, as the tours in no way disrespect Hawaiian culture. Killing Sharks does.
This is about a baseless political fear campaign waged by a minority and alas, tolerated by a majority who obviously lack the interest, the energy or the spine to speak up against the shenanigans. It is the same majority who will bear the economic consequences if the Honolulu ordinance gets ratified.

Tourists have a choice.
Like in the case of Florida, they will simply take their tourist dollars elsewhere, to a destination that offers the full spectrum of aquatic recreation and that is not the playing ground of self serving and hypocritical eco-impersonators. Oahu is a major hub in the Shark fin trade and the Hawaiian game fishermen continue to target and kill Sharks. Those are the very circles that have spawned the infamous Shark Task Force that is now dictating their anti-Shark agenda to the silent majority and destroying Hawaii's tourism industry in the process.

It may be late but the cause is not completely lost.
Let's hold the powers that be accountable for their actions.

Underwater Thrills have posted the e-mails of all Honolulu City and County council members and a specimen letter to them.
Here they are - please write to them.
Thank you.

Honolulu City and County Council Members

Todd K. Apo (808) 768-5001

Donovan M. Dela Cruz (808) 768-5002

Ikaika Anderson (808) 768-5003

Charles K. Djou (808) 768-5004

Ann Kobayashi (808) 768-5005

Rod Tam (808) 768-5006

Romy M. Cachola (808) 768-5007

Gary H. Okino (808) 768-5008

Nestor R. Garcia (808) 768-5009

Dear Council Member, I am writing on behalf of North Shore Shark Adventures and Hawaii Shark Encounters based on the North Shore of Hawaii.

Both of these operations represent 40,000 shark tourists each and every year to your island. Both have been in business for close to a decade representing the finest example of sustainable and safe eco tourism operations.

I am sure you are aware of a recent shark study done by the University of Hawaii that indicates the animals of the North Shore do not follow these vessels back into shore as has been alleged. There is no man made shark safety issue with current shark tourism operations in Oahu as has been the case for close to a decade.

Your decision to ban shark tours will shut out 40,000 tourists from the North Shore.
While Maui has banned shark tourism they have also provided Oahu with an unexpected boost to it's local economy. Tourists do not like to be shut out from tourism opportunities.
An adventure tourism seeker will choose Oahu over Maui knowing they can dive with sharks safely and sustainably when presented with this ban. This is an unexpected "tourism opportunity" handed to you by Maui that you can support or destroy with your vote.

Shark tourism represents a $300 million dollar global industry.
When short sighted local governments in Florida banned shark tourism in 2001, Bahamas shark tourism quickly grew to a $70 million dollar a year juggernaut. Adventure tourism seekers represent the fastest growing segment of the global tourism market.
These tourism seekers typically vote with their wallets.

Consider your vote in this matter carefully.
The world is watching what Oahu does with this proposed shark ban. Will Oahu be known as the island that understood all aspects of tourism or the island that was lead by unsubstantiated fear based shark hysteria into destroying successful and safe shark tourism?

Do you want to be known as the politician who drove 40,000 shark tourists to other global tourism destinations outside of Hawaii?

Thank you for your consideration,


No comments: