Nickle-and-Dimed to Death | Hawaii visitors in shock
No matter how much money they may have, visitors don’t like the feeling of being nickeled to death. If we hadn’t heard those exact words used countless times in your comments, it might not have grabbed our attention like it just did. Here are some examples. Let us know which comment you agree with the most.
Lori: I’d rather pay one tax than be nickel and dime at every park, beach, and attraction.
Steve: It seems that rather than welcoming tourists, the goal is to sell them one hundred percent on whatever is possible. With each trip I find more things that get charged for, and while some are worth it, many are just a way for the state to make money, with little money spent on improving the park or area.
Lynn: The budget determines where people can go and where they go. This can waste money in Hawaii for visitors who choose not to go to a place where they will be nickel and dimmed for everything on vacation.
Andy: The airlines keep selling nickel and silver to the traveler and they’re oblivious to the fact that they’re notoriously hated.
Rita: As a frequent visitor…we already pay higher taxes for residing in Hawaiian hotels/resorts…It looks like visitors may be nickel and dimmed to death and unappreciated…Unless the government’s objective Hawaiian either to keep visitors away.
Barbara: I’d be happy to pay an “entry fee” rather than being nickel and dime every day when I want to visit a beach. I completely understand this concept of visitors helping to keep Kauai going, but please don’t hit me on the head any day I’m here!
Jim: It doesn’t matter how rich you are. Nobody likes to be nickel and dime.
Jen: We’ve loved going to Hawaii for years. But the taxes and fees get to the point of being ridiculous. I feel like Hawaii is making it clear that tourism is not wanted. We usually spend a lot of money there. We don’t go cheap, but we want to spend our money where we can go and know we won’t be nickel and dimmed.
Tony: What I think Kauai should try to avoid is being like Disneyland’s slot machine where every time you turn around you spend more money and you feel polished and faded to death… Where is the money going?
Tana: These islands seem like they’re getting stale and dwindling tourists and it’s getting really old and boring. Hawaii is expensive to go and stay, real people have to save and work more to go there, all these costs will add to the difficulties of going there.
Nickle-and-diming sounds like the antithesis of aloha.
It’s not just how much you charge, but the perceived value of the product offered and the visitors who are the consumers. At all levels, Hawaii has clearly missed the mark in this area.
Hotel Rates and Resort Fees: How Does the Average Rate of $1,600/Night Fare?
In the last month reported by the state (see report below), Wailea hotels topped the average billing rates at $1,136 per night. Excluding taxes and fees, including resort fees. In total, that’s about $1,600/night on average.
Lodging taxes: the highest in the country.
Lodging taxes added to hotels and vacation rentals have increased by 3% over the past year. The Hawaii Legislature initiated these increases via HB 862. This measure took effect from last October. As a result, the state now has the highest combined lodging tax in the United States.
The state legislature approved lodging taxes. Previously, counties received an allotment of the flat 10.25% statewide lodging tax rate, but that has ended. Instead, each county had to add its own 3% surtax to this existing statewide tax. These taxes are in addition to an additional 4.17% GST in Maui and 4.712% GST elsewhere in Hawaii. The combined hotel and vacation rental tax is approximately 18%.
It should be noted that Hawaii residents and visitors pay the exact same lodging taxes.
Hawaii beach parking fees.
We recently reported that Maui has implemented a paid beach parking system for visitors with rates up to $30. The other islands also have similar plans in the works. It is therefore not a question of if but of when and how much.
Hawaii State Park Visitor Admission Fee.
Of the 50 Hawaiian parks in Hawaii, 10 already have visitor admission and parking fees (these are typically $5 per person and $10 per vehicle). This includes Hanauma State Park, where the admission price has been increased to $25/person. Hawaii residents are exempt. Visitor admission fees will also come to all state parks. We do not yet know when they will arrive in the other 40 parks, how they will be managed and what the fees will be.
Airlines and airline fees.
With the exception of most competitive routes, airfares from Hawaii are getting higher and higher. Competition is changing and on most continental routes it is now reduced. This became evident when flights from Southwest Hawaii were halted on 10 routes. Airfares are also picking up again, and we recently got stuck with huge airline change fees, as we reported.
Can you avoid being nickel-and-dimed in Hawaii?
One of the differences is that tourists are asked to pay exorbitant rates for everything, as well as various additional fees that residents do not pay. While this is true in other countries, it’s much less common in US interstate travel. However, as we have pointed out, everyone, including residents, pays accommodation taxes.
Where do the Hawaii taxes and fees go?
As you pointed out, Hawaii wasted most of its taxes in perpetuity. So we end up with ridiculously high fares and a largely third world tourist infrastructure. But sometimes we see changes when admission fees are added. Diamond Head is a good example. Before the fee, peddlers were rampant, tunnels and bunkers were unlit, and the trail needed work. This has all been corrected and a staircase has been added near the top to create an alternate route for visitors.