Hawaii’s economy thrives off of tourism as its main source of revenue and employment. Therefore, Hawaii’s wealth is also directly influenced by the overall condition of the U.S.’s economy. If the overall market in the U.S. is not in great condition, business and household spending moves further and further away from traveling and vacations.
According to Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/visitor-stats/), the total amount of visitors to Oahu annually is down more than 300,000 since just 2007. Also, overall hotel occupancy rates have gone down from 81.1% occupancy in 2005, to 64.9% at the end of 2009. If we can’t even keep our existing hotels occupied, what makes Turtle Bay Development believe they can fill an additional 3,500 rooms to their already present 900 that are not filled year around.
Total Arrivals Data in 2007. It has decreased since then.
Furthermore, the reason people come from all over the world to visit Hawaii is because of its natural beauty and laid-back countryside. Getting rid of one of the last stretches of countryside beach on Oahu will result in the loss of even more tourism. It is the same thing when people go to Las Vegas for vacation. They want to be on the strip and in the scene to party because that is what they came to Vegas to do. They are not going to stay in a hotel off the strip and enjoy their vacations there. People who visit the North Shore go to surf, snorkel, hike and go to the beach. If that is not at their disposal, they will not come.
Marriot is a great example of a company who understands this. Marriot not only understands the importance of corporate responsibility, but also keeping the ambiance of the locations the people who occupy their hotels come to enjoy. For these reasons, they have invested $2 million in rainforest preservation in Brazil. Doing so not only helps preserve the rainforest’s environment, which is considered the “lungs of our earth,” but it maintains Brazil’s natural beauty that people come to enjoy. Turtle Bay Developers could definitely learn a thing or two from Marriot on corporate responsibility and the preservation of the world’s natural resources.
For more information on Marriot and corporate responsibility visit http://www.marriott.com/Images/Text%20Images/US/MarriottSocialResponsibilityandCommunityEngagement.pdf.
In 1986, three years before I was born, developers for turtle Bay Resort gained permission to build 3,500 rooms and condominiums in addition to their already existing resort. This unilateral agreement was based off an environmental impact statement dating back even further. The development didn’t occur due to financial issues, but now, 24 years later, Turtle Bay Development wants to go forth with their original plans, plus more.
A lot has changed in the past 24 years. I am now 21 years old; I’ve graduated high school and am approaching college graduation this spring. One could say I’m finished with nearly a quarter of my life. Simultaneously, while I was growing and changing, the countryside of Oahu was too. North Shore’s population has increased tremendously, tourism has gone up, and then back down, and the surf culture has turned the North Shore into “The Mecca” of surf destinations. Having permission to develop in an area that has changed so much, based on a study so old, is laughable. Just like I am not the same person I was twenty years ago, neither is the environment, culture or economy.
Not only would this development be detrimental for our island, but it would also be foolish and morally irresponsible for Turtle Bay Developers to go forth without a new environmental impact statement. There is no telling what the effects may be economically, environmentally and culturally not only for our island, but for your company, Drew Strotesbury. Let’s not turn our naturally beautiful land into another over-developed tourist destination. That is not the beauty people come from all over the world to see.
Waikiki, located on the South Shore of Hawaii, before large-scale development.
The 5-mile-stretch from Kawela Bay to Kahuku Point
The stretch of coastline from Kawela Bay to Kahuku Point is considered one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches in the world. Its ocean and land provide homes to hundreds of species and supply recreation areas for residents and tourists from around the world to enjoy. Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Kawela Bay offers its natural beauty, enormous surf and blissful surroundings, allowing an escape from busy city life, where one can slip into the laid back Hawaiian lifestyle. Sounds amazing right?
This 5-mile-stretch also happens to be the site for the expansion of Turtle Bay Resort. The owners, Turtle Bay Development, plan to expand their existing resort adding 5 more hotels and over 3,500 more timeshares, condos and resort hotel units. This development will virtually take over the coast of Kawela Bay and its surrounding areas saying goodbye to the open land that has been available to the community as long as I can remember.
To develop these 880 acres would be a huge mistake in my eyes. Not only will Oahu lose what it refers to as its countryside, but it will lose its way of life. The more and more Hawaii is developed, the less and less our Hawaiian culture thrives. Furthermore, the North Shore of Hawaii does not have the resources to support such a development. This is what Drew Stotesbury, owner’s representative for Turtle Bay Development, needs to realize.
Aloha, Whitney Bechert