BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD – Fact: Tourism is important to all of us on Oahu but the grim reality is that since the 1996-1998 high, tourism has been at a fairly constant slide, as the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism monthly statistics since 1990 show.
Today’s visitors observe a congested, aging and increasingly unappealing Oahu with potholed roads, tired looking parks, and hordes of homeless.
Action is needed now. My vision is to restore the postcard image of Oahu as a great tourist destination by focusing on fixing the infrastructure and maintaining our parks, beaches and tourist attractions.
That is real value to the tourist industry and all of us who live here.
The more attractive we are as a visitor destination, the more the hotels can get higher rates and higher quality jobs in the hospitality industry will be created.
Destruction: My opponents in the mayor’s race will significantly harm Oahu’s tourist industry in three ways:
(1) Both advocate rail which is a giant project that will involve 10 years of messy construction to deliver a system that very few will use, according to the city’s own forecasts. The construction mess and the very ugly all-elevated rail line will be tourism killers for Oahu.
(2) The rail is gigantically expensive so other needs such as dilapidated parks and beaches, homelessness and potholed roads will be under-funded. Thus they will get worse and Oahu’s tourist appeal will worsen.
(3) The taxes needed to construct and maintain rail and the sewers add up to $10 billion which means heavy extra taxes. How heavy? The typical sewer bill 15 years from now will be about $2,500 per year plus another $1,000 for rail for each taxpayer.
People in the hospitality industry will find it increasingly difficult to afford to live in Hawaii. Hotels may increase wages and will have to pay higher city taxes. So hotels will have to charge much more for their rooms to offset the costs, thus making a visitation to Hawaii more costly and less competitive.
My competitors’ model for “rail jobs” is a long term disaster.
See more at http://www.fixoahunow.com
Panos Prevedouros PhD is a Honolulu candidate for mayor in 2010 and an engineer.