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The Conversation

Here's how Hawaiʻi could learn from Venice's new protections against overtourism

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How can Hawaiʻi best take care of the land — malama the ʻāina? For Earth Day, The Conversation spoke to Elizabeth Becker, the author of "Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism."

Daily passenger arrivals throughout April matched pre-pandemic levels and on some days even surpassed them, according to data from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

While that’s good news for the visitor industry, Becker says there are lessons to be learned from the lull of the pandemic. Hawaiʻi could look at the overtourism protections other places instituted during the pandemic, she said.

"Above all was the city of Venice — beautiful Renaissance city with no cars. Its whole ecosystem was in trouble. The air pollution from a single cruise ship was equivalent of more than 3 million cars. With the pause, an opportunity arose," Becker said.

"For literally decades, they've been trying to get rid of the big cruise ships with thousands of passengers that dock in the lagoon. It took the prime minister himself, Mario Draghi, to say, 'OK basta.' And finally, large cruise ships are not allowed. They have to dock on land," Becker told HPR.

Becker says Venice also put a new tax on daytrippers, passengers that disembark in the city but do not stay overnight.

Becker was also a correspondent for The Washington Post and The New York Times and has served as senior editor of NPR’s Foreign Desk. This interview aired on The Conversation on April 22, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

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