The idea of Hawaii reducing the number of its available vacation rentals might sound insane, but that is in fact now happening - and there’s compelling reasoning behind it.
States like Kauai and Maui, which are already overloaded with more visitors than they are equipped to accommodate, are also currently quite populated with illegal rentals. Many of these are Airbnb’s located in residential areas, and as Hawaii News Now reports, concerns among those in the rental industry appear to be that the market will eventually be “destroyed.”
This not entirely illuminating description of the issue has left many unconvinced, who understandably suspect the crackdown on illegal rentals is really an opportunistic push to reduce the overall number of visitors to the islands.
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Although it would be no surprise if the Maui City Council, the Honolulu Planning Commission, and others were unwilling to publicly declare so, overcrowding is certainly an issue and one that could be partially solved by the crackdown. This past November, a month that is normally relatively slow for tourism, the islands received 36,000 arriving visitors on a single Saturday before Thanksgiving.
How many of these visitors were staying in illegal rentals is, by nature, hard to determine with any precision - but we can be reasonably sure it wasn’t zero. Opting to simply enforce more effectively the laws already in place seems an obvious first step in trying to manage such incredible numbers of incoming travelers.
The problem is that Hawaii also depends on tourism economically. Even if you stay in a local Airbnb that happens to be committing some assortment of regulatory fouls, you’re still flying on the airlines, shopping at businesses, and so on. Erasing your lodging could easily erase your visit altogether, along with your contribution to the local economy and those of numerous others.
How this crackdown will impact the rental market in 2022 is left to be witnessed by us all.