Even Investigative-Birther Influx Can't Stem Aloha State's Tourism Decline


It's shaping up to be a grim 50th birthday for America's youngest (and undoubtedly fakest) state, as the local tourism industry gets a nice Hawaiian punch courtesy of the global recession. According to the Wall Street Journal:

As much as a third of Hawaii's economy is driven by tourism, say state finance experts, and a recent state report showed that from January to June, spending from visitors who arrived by air dropped 15% to $4.97 billion from a year earlier.

Even sunbathers this year easily claimed spots on the normally overcrowded Waikiki Beach, a distressing sign for an economy more dependent on tourism than any other state in the U.S.

To put things into perspective, the state's unemployment rate, even at a 31-year high, is only 7.4 percent — lower than the national average and better than the structural unemployment rate for many tourismdependent economies around the world. (Oh wait: Damn you, Monaco, for screwing up the average.) The story also conflates government budget concerns with actual economic performance. (Gov. Linda Lingle is aiming to cut 1,000 state jobs to close an $800 million deficit.) Finally, there's this attempt by to pathologize the healthy dynamics of the bazaar:

Two years ago, there seemed no end to Hawaii tourism, said Marcus Oshiro, finance chairman of the Hawaii House of Representatives. "And now we're begging and offering free meals and free lessons trying to get them to come here."

Eager to do my part, I urge seekers of truth in all its forms to take a Hawaiian vacation and run down today's birth-certificate wrinkle, which holds that President Obama is actually 52 and thus was born before Hawaiian statehood. Leis, drinks with umbrellas, and a 1957 birth certificate: Make this year's vacation matter!

More broadly, doesn't tourism complicate the issue of Hawaiian independence? I mean, maybe the archipelago could get adopted by some other nearby country with 300 million of the richest people on Earth. But I'm not seeing many candidates on this side of the International Date Line. (Then again, at the rate we're going, you may soon need a passport to enter Hawaii anyway.)

Troubling questions, but the only question that matters is: What would McGarrett do? He'd tell us to hang loose: