Visitors and kamaaina can peacefully coexist
THIS is in response to the Star-Bulletin's July 6 article
"Fewer hotel rooms filled in the month of May." This article is timely as I was preparing my biennial trip back home and was contemplating going to the Big Island. I looked on the big-name travel sites to find potential hotels to stay at and reviews about them.
Hilo has only four big hotels, and the various reviews contained repeated comments about them being places to stop on the way to or from the airport. Some might have had exterior remodels but not much on the interior.
Another frequent comment in the reviews is that the service was mediocre to poor. Hotel personnel weren't willing to extend themselves (probably never heard of customer first!) to bedraggled visitors. I don't know if it's still true, but back in the '80s, many small-town people viewed tourists (especially haoles) as invading and demeaning their way of life. Well, sorry, but many of you hardly make a living to be picky. And whatever happened to the aloha spirit? Is it exclusively for locals like us only?
Kamaainas, I don't know if you guys know this, but most of us who live on the mainland aren't raking it in -- we're just getting more bang for the buck and are able to save money (or get into some debt) to visit. For us expatriots, we have family to go see, but for many, staying at a condo sure beats paying for a room we must check out of by noon and went pay too much for.
I know it's tough to live in Hawaii today, but you should face facts:
» Until you guys get some viable industries that locals can easily train for and move up the ladder in, visitors (expatriots and haoles) are your bread and butter!
» Not all haoles are rude, selfish or rich. I have plenty of haole friends who are family-oriented, polite and want to learn about other cultures -- that's why many of them save for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii. Don't make it a bummer.
I know there are lots of locals who work with malihinis and have given plenty of aloha to them -- to you guys, mahalo for truly living out the aloha spirit.
Kalena Chang, who is from Hawaii, now lives in Olympia, Wash.