Economic fairness in tourism in Hawaii

Laenui-Poka

Earlier, I addressed one aspect of economic fairness in tourism in Hawaii, and elsewhere. There are many other concerns but this is just a sample of the type of equity or pono we need to infuse with all of our activities.
The next area which I did not address is the humanity aspect of tourism, what’s good and what’s bad. Tourism or visiting is not good or bad in and of itself. People’s curiosity, wonderment, and discovery are wonderful things for the human spirit. Exchange of understandings, appreciation and friendliness are traits we should all support. But when that exchange of humanity is turned into an economic commodity within a run-away capitalist system, we degrade the beauty in this exchange and degrade the people who are used as pawns and “economic factors”. We somehow lose the essence of human interaction with a pretend sense of “Aloha” which cheapens the tourist experience and ourselves who engage in it merely for economic profit. We can compare it to fresh flower leis picked and sewn by human hands and plastic leis manufactured in chemical laboratories and mass produced on conveyor belts.
We need to reassess tourism as an exchange, first and foremost, of humanity and for Hawaii, Aloha. In all interactions among guests and hosts, we must cherish those interactions as valued cultural expressions of ourselves. Guests should come to our shores with some understanding of who they are, where they come from and what values they have. They need to explore what’s in their own baggage and what they can share with people they will interact with. Money is not the only commodity of trade on their end. They could also commit to learning of the history and cultures of Hawaii and return to their homelands as ambassadors of pono.
On our part, we must see tourism as people wanting to fulfill a part of their human spirit to explore, to understand, to experience, to learn of the vast treasures in this prism called Hawaii, which somehow is a window into many other parts of the world. We should be proud of our Hawaii, yet be frank about the challenges we face, in our environment, in our economic system, in our colonization by the U.S., and in our hopes and dreams of a future for Hawaii and the world.
In this fair treatment of Tourism from a humanities perspective, we can convert this important economic activity into a boon for Hawaiian political rights, for cultural rights of our multiple cultures, for religious tolerance and appreciation, for environmental protection, and many more things of great value to our society.
Aloha `aina, Poka Laenui

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