Council mulls over report outlining ways to manage tourism on Maui

Visitors arrive at Kahului Airport. Picture file. PC: J.D. Pells

Regulating peer-to-peer car sharing, setting a cap on tourist accommodations and banning transient vacation rentals in certain districts are among ideas for managing tourism in Maui that were presented this week by a county group.

These and other recommendations are part of a more than 400-page report unveiled Wednesday at the council’s budget, finance and economic development committee meeting.

Derived by a temporary investigative group of four council members, the plans will be discussed for remand or other legislation at the February 23 committee meeting.

Panel members included Board Vice Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Chair Alice Lee, and members Shane Sinenci and Tamara Paltin. They met with industry and community participants during seven meetings that began last year.

Lee on Wednesday confirmed the committee’s hard work while saying she disagreed with some of the recommendations.


“I didn’t agree with everything, but I certainly agree with the work ethic and everything that comes with it,” she said. “It was a lot of work.”


Paltin said it was impossible to legislate economic diversity and the daunting task would involve the work of many sectors.

“It’s going to take every person thinking about economic diversification in Maui County,” she said. “It’s not just a six-month TIG thing or a two-year thing – it’s every day, all day, for the rest of our lives.”

Council discussions and public testimony on tourism management have intensified during the pandemic.


After visitor arrivals hit a record high of over 3 million in 2019, tourism was largely halted in early 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. Domestic travel reopened towards the end of 2020, however, and residents have seen a resurgence in arrival numbers that now rival pre-pandemic times.

Data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows domestic arrivals last month surpassed the same month in 2019.

The rapid rebound is accompanied by impacts on roads and other infrastructure, natural resources and housing. Additionally, the industry has enjoyed unfettered growth for many years, council members said.

The council recently overruled a veto by Mayor Michael Victorino on a bill intended to help hedge against further growth. Bill 148 imposes a moratorium on new transitional units until the board implements TIG’s recommendations, or in two years, whichever comes first.

Wednesday’s TIG report contains eight legislative proposals, including the following:

  • Put in place a ceiling for tourist accommodation. Place a cap on the number of transitional accommodations currently in operation, or legally permitted by Maui County’s current code, and forward legislation to planning commissions and advisory committees.
  • Create a departmental tourism management structure. Establish a tourism management commission with voting members who are not directly or solely financially dependent on the tourism industry and include an ex-officio member who is financially dependent on the industry to provide voting members with insight into decision-making. decision.
  • Green energy needs for transient accommodation. Amend the county’s action plan to encourage the tourism industry to implement green energy technologies and sustainability measures.
  • Remove discretionary wording on 33% tourism amount in Maui Island plan. Amend the Maui Island Plan to stop permit applications or permits for transient vacation accommodations if the visitor population exceeds 33% of the resident population.
  • Regulate the peer-to-peer carsharing industry. Amend Maui County code to add a new section requiring the registered owner of a vehicle rented on a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform to park the vehicle at all times, when not rented , on the private property of the registered owner, and not on a public road. In addition, the pick-up and drop-off of car-sharing vehicles between individuals in a residential area would be prohibited.
  • Amend the Maui Island Plan to include measurable quality of life indicators. Amend the Maui Island Plan by adding indicator milestones to help track progress against existing benchmarks focused on monitoring and evaluating residents’ quality of life.
  • Managed Retreat: Amend Maui County code to add a new section that would allow exceptions to transitional accommodation caps for structures within the sea level rise exposure zone to be strategically relocated and rebuilt outside the Sea Level Rise Exposure Zone and Special Management Zone.
  • Eliminate transient vacation rentals in various neighborhoods. Amend the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance to eliminate transient vacation rentals as special uses in various districts and establish new requirements for transient vacation rentals in various districts.

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