The Tension Over Tourism In Hawai'i | Crooked Media
September 07, 2023
What A Day
The Tension Over Tourism In Hawai'i

In This Episode

  • In a new report, Hawai’i’s Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism estimates that because of the Maui fire damages, the state’s economy will lose about $1.9 billion through 2024. So while state tourism officials initially urged tourists to stay away from Maui, they’ve now started to encourage tourists to come back to other parts of Maui and other Hawaiian islands to boost the local economy. But that tourism comes with a price.
  • Today, the Florida Supreme Court will hear a case that could overturn 34 years of legal precedent regarding the right to abortion access. If successful, the state — which now provides the most abortion access in the Southeast — could quickly become a very different place for those seeking the medical procedure.
  • And in headlines: Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that federal laws prohibiting abortion are unconstitutional violations of women’s rights, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called on government officials to provide more support for the city’s migrant crisis, and the South Florida city of Lake Worth Beach has become the state’s first LGBTQ+ sanctuary city.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi. It’s Friday, September 8th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson and this is What A Day, the pod that doesn’t care too much about this week’s comeback for Victoria’s Secret fashion show. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yeah, we just, like everybody else, have moved on to the Savage Fenty show. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. 


Priyanka Aribindi. So sorry– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. 


Priyanka Aribindi. –to Miss Victoria. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Victoria. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, that’s the people’s fashion show okay? 


Priyanka Aribindi. Sorry. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, Florida’s Supreme Court hears a case that puts abortion access on the line in the state. Meanwhile, Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized the procedure. 


Priyanka Aribindi. But first, an update on Maui in the aftermath of the devastating wildfires that destroyed Lahaina last month. In a new report, Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism estimates that because of the fires damages, the state’s economy will lose about $1.9 billion dollars through 2024. Over 800 businesses that employed 7000 people were lost in Lahaina. And in the three weeks after the fire, over 8000 new unemployment claims were filed in the state. And according to the department’s director, the fire has not only impacted West Maui, where it burned, that impact has spread to the entire state. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, absolutely. And I know there’s been a bit of an about face on tourism in the area because of this economic impact. What do we know about that? 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yeah. So at the beginning, state tourism officials were urging tourists to stay away from Maui. The island needed to rebuild. Obviously, that is a long term process. But the major point was that there were so many residents in Maui who were in need of immediate shelter, food and all these other resources that tourists shouldn’t be getting in the way of. Like tourists shouldn’t be prioritized. It should be the actual people who live there. But pretty soon afterwards, state tourism officials changed their tune. They say that while tourists should avoid the areas that were damaged, they started to encourage them to come back to other parts of Maui and the other Hawaiian islands, saying that their spending is desperately needed for the local economy and keeping people employed and able to maintain their livelihoods. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Now, that’s a pretty complicated ask, right? Because you’ve got this, which is what the tourism officials are saying. But then there’s also the demand for sensitivity and respect from the locals. Can you tell us a bit more about that tension? 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yes, definitely. We cannot get into the conversation about tourism in Hawaii without acknowledging some of these long standing sentiments held by some native Hawaiians and residents about the tourism industry. On one hand, obviously it provides revenue, but there’s definitely a darker side to it as well. It’s resulted in increased housing prices that priced out native Hawaiians from their home land. Climate change, which destroys the island’s environment. And many feel like there’s a lack of respect for the native land that tourists are occupying when they come for vacation, as well as a lack of awareness for how tourism has historically disenfranchized native Hawaiians ever since 1778, when Captain Cook became the first European Voyager to visit the islands. We know that Western contact is what led to the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 by the U.S. and the near extinction of the Hawaiian language and culture that followed. It’s been responsible for so many bad things in this area, as well as being a source of revenue. So a lot of mixed feelings from a lot of people. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and we covered a bit of that history on our episode, Hawai’i: An American Coup. Check that out, everyone. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Definitely. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So back to the situation here. What exactly do locals have to say about the place of tourists during the recovery process? 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yeah, I mean, they want to make sure people are listening to the state’s plea to avoid coming to West Maui. But some also do see the money that tourism brings in as necessary. Take a listen to Courtney Walter, a local chef, speaking to Reuters. 


[clip of Courtney Walter] That’s how I felt too, we’re like, we can’t have tourists here right now. We need to feed and take care of our own people. But those places are still running. And all of those people still have their bills to pay. And they’re single parents and they have mortgages and they own businesses. I think people are realizing now that everyone else in Maui still needs to make money. 


Priyanka Aribindi. According to Ilihia Gionson, a public affairs officer for the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, tourists should come to other parts of the island and support locally owned shops, restaurants and farmers and do activities run by small local businesses. All of that directly supports Maui residents and keeps them employed. Obviously, for tourists this is a vacation. But I also think that being mindful and respectful of the devastation that these people and this land has experienced even before the wildfires is another key component. So if you do find yourself in this position, that is something that you are contemplating, please keep that in mind. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I think it’s really important just to be very cognizant and intentional. If you are–


Priyanka Aribindi. Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –going to take your vacation to Hawaii for sure. Thanks for that, Priyanka. Now on to some foolishness out of Florida, where today the state’s Supreme Court will hear a case that could overturn 34 years of legal precedent regarding the right to abortion access. If successful as it is expected to be, the state which now provides the most abortion access in the Southeast will become a very different place for those in need of the medical procedure. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Tell us a little more about this case and how we got here. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So take a little trip down history lane with me. I promise I’ll make it interesting. So back in 1977, a Florida State University law professor by the name of Patricia Dore believed that the state’s constitution needed a privacy amendment. She basically saw it as an insurance policy of sorts that would ensure that in the off chance that Roe versus Wade was overturned, that Floridians would still have a safety net. Now, that amendment was passed by voters a few years later and provides every person, quote, “to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life.” And almost 35 years ago, the state’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the amendment also made abortion a fundamental right. Well, today, with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis having appointed a majority of the justices on a very different court, the state is now arguing that the Supreme Court got it wrong those many years ago. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Of course they are. And we know how this is probably going to go for these people. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly right. It’s not necessarily a good case. Interestingly enough, though, this case was brought by abortion rights supporters. It’s formally named Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida versus Florida. And it was meant to challenge the state’s 15 week abortion ban or H.B. five. That ban is actually modeled on the Mississippi law that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld with their Dobbs decision. But wait, there’s more. Because DeSantis and his Republican led legislature feel fairly confident that the state’s Supreme Court will side with their regressive foolishness. They have already approved a six week abortion ban that will be triggered to go into effect 30 days after the court’s decision in their favor. So in one swoop, the state could go from protecting the right to an abortion to banning them after six weeks. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yeah, and as we have said many times, most people do not know that they are pregnant by six weeks. That is very early into a pregnancy. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. But Republicans don’t care about that. Right? In total, at least 13 Republican led states have banned abortion. That’s according to the Guttmacher Institute, which has resulted in countless near-death experiences and so much trauma for people seeking care for pregnancy complications. There’s a lawsuit in Texas, for example, that has exposed this very issue. But after Dobbs, state constitutions have become important battlegrounds, especially as abortions rose in most states this year. That, by the way, includes Florida. So, so many people will be negatively impacted. You know, if and when this six week ban goes into effect, of course, we will keep updating y’all on this and much more. But that is the latest for now. [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi. Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro was convicted yesterday of two contempt of Congress charges. That is because he defied a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Each count carries up to one year behind bars and a maximum fine of $100,000. The verdict makes Navarro the second top Trump adviser to be convicted of contempt of Congress. The first was former White House adviser Steve Bannon. He was convicted of two counts last summer and was sentenced to four months in prison. Bannon is appealing his conviction, and Navarro intends to do the same. In staying on the topic of legal woes in connection to Donald Trump, over in Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis yesterday accused Representative Jim Jordan of trying to obstruct and interfere with a state criminal proceeding and advancing, quote, “outrageous partisan misrepresentations.” As a reminder, Willis is the D.A. leading the charges against Trump and 18 others over their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. And Republican Representative Jordan, a close Trump ally, sent a letter to D.A. Willis last month questioning her motivation behind the investigation and demanding documents by Thursday, a.k.a. yesterday. Instead, Willis sent over a nine page letter writing that there is, quote, “no justification in the Constitution for Congress to interfere with a state criminal matter as you attempt to do.” I absolutely love this woman’s response to all the people who tried to get in her way. It is always respectful, but with a little with a little spice. We always know what the sentiment is. But on paper, it’s nice. No one can call her for not being nice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Some exciting news out of Mexico. The country’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that federal laws prohibiting abortion are unconstitutional violations of women’s rights. The decision effectively decriminalizes the procedure by removing abortion from Mexico’s penal code and requires all federal health institutions to offer abortions to anyone who wants it. Imagine that. Wednesday’s ruling is part of a larger trend throughout Latin America, where more and more countries have expanded access to the procedure. And while abortion is still a crime in some Mexican states, state judges will have to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision in their rulings. Meanwhile, Mexico will soon elect its first ever woman president as two women finalists face off for the top spot. On Wednesday, the country’s governing party chose Claudia Sheinbaum as its nominee for the presidency. Sheinbaum is a former mayor of Mexico City and a protege of current Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. She’ll go head to head with opposing party nominee Xóchitl Gálvez, an Indigenous activist and tech entrepreneur. Both women are fairly progressive, having shown support for social welfare programs, as well as the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalize abortion. Voters will head to the polls next summer to decide which of the two will lead them. In the words of RuPaul herself, may the best woman win. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yes, definitely. New York City Mayor Eric Adams called on state and federal officials to provide more support in handling the city’s migrant crisis, saying that he does not, quote, “see an ending to it.” Take a listen to what he had to say during a town hall in Manhattan. 


[clip of Eric Adams] This issue will destroy New York City. Every community in this city is going to be impacted. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Adams went on to say that his city faces a $12 billion dollar deficit, an amount that officials say migrants will cost the city over the next three years. For context, New York City has struggled to accommodate a surge of migrants from the southern border with over 110,000 asylum seekers in need of housing, funds, and other services. While the city’s sanctuary policies require officials to provide shelter to anyone who needs it. Shelters and schools just cannot keep up. Adams has repeatedly asked President Biden and New York Governor Kathy Hochul to help his administration address the crisis by providing more funding and housing, along with expedited work permits. And Wednesday was no different, with Adams claiming that his administration has received no support. The mayor’s remarks drew strong support from Republicans, of course, who want to do away with New York City’s sanctuary policies entirely. Meanwhile, immigration advocates condemned Adams for pushing rhetoric that they say is harmful and racist. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The very first African climate summit took place in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi this week, and it drew tens of thousands of delegates from around the continent and world. Its goal was to focus on sustainable growth and climate finance solutions, and a total of $23 billion dollars was pledged to green projects by governments, investors and philanthropists. The United States is putting in $30 million dollars to support climate resilient food security efforts across Africa. And the United Arab Emirates pledged a whopping $4.5 billion dollars to support clean energy initiatives. Still, the underlying tension was clear. African leaders were frustrated with the lack of urgency from the wealthier international community. The summit concluded Wednesday with the Nairobi Declaration, a strong call to action from African leaders that included phasing out coal usage, global taxes on carbon pollution and ending fossil fuel subsidies. The leaders said in the joint declaration, quote, “Africa is not historically responsible for global warming, but bears the brunt of its effect, impacting lives, livelihoods and economies.” 


Priyanka Aribindi. And finally, in a rare ray of sunshine in the Sunshine State, the South Florida city of Lake Worth Beach earlier this week became the state’s first LGBTQ+ sanctuary city. City commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a resolution declaring the city a safe haven. Take a listen to Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch reading the resolution. 


[clip of Betty Resch] The city of Lake Worth Beach shall now and forever be considered a safe place, a sanctuary, a welcoming and supportive city for the LGBTQIA+ individuals and their families to live in peace and comfort. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yeah, that should be a goal of every city, in my opinion. But it is not as [laugh] we have learned. As we have covered on the show before. Florida has passed several laws that target the LGBTQ+ community, like the state’s don’t say gay law, among others. Here is what Michael Riordan, with the city’s LGBTQ+ community center, told local TV station WPBF 25 News. 


[clip of Michael Riordan] Being a resident of Lake Worth Beach um absolutely ecstatic that they’ve taken a stand like this. And as a human being, I’m disappointed that things like this are necessary in this day and age that we have to have governments coming out and actively saying we will not discriminate against a certain population. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yeah, absolutely. It’s a mix. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I don’t quite know exactly where Lake Worth Beach is, but perhaps I have a new vacation location. 


Priyanka Aribindi. At this point. It’s looking better than most other places in Florida. [laughter] And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to talk about a proposed law in China that is pretty vague. It would ban dressing in a way that hurts the country’s feelings. That is in a moment. 




Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday WAD Squad. And we’re wrapping up the week by talking about a report that China’s drafted a law to ban addressing in a way that would, quote, “hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation.” The problem is that the proposed change doesn’t define what that means. Chinese people on social media wondered if, for example, a suit and tie would count since they originated in the West and they weren’t always a part of China’s history. So they worry that if the law is enacted, it would be too vague and could lead to abuse. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Now, we usually don’t take cues from the Chinese government, but it did get us thinking that there are plenty of styles in America that we find offensive just because they hurt our eyes. So we wanted to propose bans on clothes that we don’t like just because we can. We are calling this segment Fascist Fashion. [percussive musical chord rings out] To be clear, we would not abuse people who wear something that we think is ugly. At most we would rehabilitate your wardrobes by sending the Queer Eye guys to your house, which honestly feels like a reward. So Tre’vell if you were a fashion dictator. What is first up on your list of things to ban? 


Tre’vell Anderson: First up on my list is socks with sandals. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Okay. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m offended at the thought of it, let alone witnessing it. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yes, that feels high on the list, but I my jaw dropped in surprise because mine is also sock themed. It feels like we’re on the same page here. [laughter]


Tre’vell Anderson: I think I would also add really quickly. Jorts. Jean shorts. 


Priyanka Aribindi. Jorts. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Not to be confused with Daisy Dukes. If they’re like Daisy Dukes or they’re like above mid-thigh. That’s acceptable. 


Priyanka Aribindi. That’s allowed. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Anything below mid-thigh and you’re calling them shorts. It’s time to get rid of them. What about for you? 


Priyanka Aribindi. Yeah, I’m with you. There is consensus on our fashion choices here. So my thought, my original thought was also sock themed. And I was a little hesitant on this because the fashion girls are doing it and it looks cool on them. But I just got to say, a crew sock on most people, the ones that cover your ankle, you know, because it’s usually a man of a certain age wearing it with a gym shoe. They’re bad. They’re so bad. It’s unflattering. It looks bad on everybody. I mean, the cool girls with the loafers can pull it off. But, like, that is like three people on this planet. They can also pull off jorts, so like [laughter] they’re in their own world. It’s fine. They’re not normal people. It’s not for the rest of us. Again, we will not punish any of you for wearing these clothing items if that is what you do. If we hurt your feelings, we’re so sorry. But you hurt our eyes. [laughter]. 


[music break]




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, get better clothes and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi. And if you are into reading and not just progressive wins in Mexico like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And just wear what Rihanna tells you to wear.


Priyanka Aribindi. Honestly, Rihanna could wear crew socks and jorts and we would all be wearing crew socks and jorts. [laughter] Our rules be damned.


Tre’vell Anderson: Her power okay. 


Priyanka Aribindi. She can make you throw anything you once thought out the window. [laughter] [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.