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What Is The Future of Lahaina?

by Philip Scott Wikel

When we say, “Let’s return Lahaina to what it was,” which Lahaina are we talking about? Granted, All of Lahaina’s residents need their houses rebuilt. But what sort of Lahaina do we want going forward?

The Lahaina that tourists know or the Lahaina that residents love. If we could all get the state of Hawaii to diversify its income streams, then maybe Lahaina could return to a place where we can know and see each other.

During the Covid lockdown we were all alone with each other and, despite the horrors of the pandemic there was at least some redemption in that we could all see each other again without the haze of so many visitors. We were bound by a common thread.

Are we not seeing something of that thread now? I understand that visitors are clamoring to come back and I understand that so many businesses need their patronages however, moving forward, can we find a balance? There hasn’t been a balance since the 90s.

Local people left in droves during Covid, sadly to some extent because of the greed of many landlords that sent housing costs through the roof. Now they’re leaving because they’ve lost their livelihoods. Soon there’ll be very few who can afford to “be of service” to visitors.

So I’ll restate what I mentioned earlier. The state of Hawaii needs to diversify its income streams and break the habit of its dependence on visitors for our economy. Many families have a lineage that goes back decades or even centuries. Families have been broken by the State’s addiction to tourism. The children of Hawaii are leaving. Who will be here to carry on our cultural values and the value of our sense of community which has shown itself so strongly in times of distress?

Negative or selfish comments to this post are unacceptable. I’ve been slammed for unpopular statements in the past and I will turn off commenting if need be. This is just my opinion and you are entitled to post your own on your own page. Please remember the community that remembers you.

We need to IMUA now and reflect on the future of not just Lahaina, but of all of Hawaii Nei.

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