As we head into the Christmas weekend, our entire state is experiencing an increasingly troubling surge in COVID-19 cases with numbers spiking to more than 1,500 across the state today. The Omicron variant is becoming more widespread across the globe and is now the most prevalent strain in the United States.
While the early data seems to suggest that the medical outcomes for those infected by Omicron are significantly better than that of earlier variants, the quick increase and significant community spread is troubling. I am grateful that we are not experiencing further restrictions, but I do want to urge you to exercise good judgement and be wise about your choices over the holidays. As I told my family, friends, staff, and others, we must remain vigilant and do our best to stop this surge as quickly as possible.
Please take care of yourself, your families, and loved ones as you celebrate this holiday weekend. Aloha Kalikimaka!
Yesterday, Mayor Victorino vetoed Bill 148 (2021) which would have placed a moratorium on building permits for visitor accommodations in Maui County. This measure, which took several forms before the Maui County Council, was something that we had opposed from the very beginning as it is our position that a moratorium will not address calls for better managed tourism and will significantly hurt not only the lodging industry but also the trades sector of the economy.
I provided the following statement in support of Mayor Victorino's veto which sums up our position on the measure:
"The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association supports Mayor Victorino’s decision to veto Bill 148. If the overall intent of the Council is to place limits on tourism in Maui County, it is our position that a moratorium on building permits for visitor accommodations is not the solution that the Council is seeking. As it is currently written, this measure will disproportionately affect legal brick-and-mortar visitor accommodations and local construction trades and fails to adequately address illegal vacation rental units—which is where Maui County has seen the most growth in visitor accommodations in recent years. To that end, we stand ready to work with the Council and the Victorino administration to address the issue of illegal vacation rentals and the immense impact these units have on the inventory of affordable housing for Maui residents."
Many of the Councilmembers seem poised to override the veto and, although it will be an uphill battle, we need to support Mayor Victorino for making the tough and right decision.
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