Hawaii vacation home rules ‘unreasonably burdensome’, says one hotel owner article Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but as the state prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its island’s last World War II bombing, it’s getting ready to get its vacation house out in front of the world.
In February, the state’s hotel and tourism board, in a vote of 5-2, approved rules for how the city’s vacation houses should behave when they’re hosting visitors.
“We’re doing our best to meet the needs of Hawaii’s guests,” says Bob Lopak, president and chief executive of the Hawaii Board of Tourism, adding that hotel operators must meet the same requirements as hotel guests.
“But we’re not saying that’s going to be perfect,” he says.
Lopack says the board is concerned that the holiday resort industry is being over-regulated, with some vacation houses having more staff than guests.
But the vacation house industry has argued that it is a local, not a national concern, and that regulations need to be more relaxed to protect its workers and keep prices down.
The rule changes are part of the governor’s $4.2bn economic stimulus package, and have already drawn criticism from the tourism industry.
In a statement, Lopacker said that the rules will not interfere with the island’s natural beauty, but that “the proposed rules will be consistent with all state and federal laws and regulations governing hotel operating”.
The tourism board’s new rules include strict limits on how much staff a hotel can have on site at any one time, and hotel operators will need to meet a series of requirements, such as having two employees per hotel guest, having to pay their staff wages, and not having a “hotel” in the property.
The rules also say that the vacation houses must offer 24-hour access for guests, and “may not use the facilities or premises of any other resort hotel”.
“It’s not a requirement,” says hotel operator Dan Todaro, who says he is worried that he will be unable to keep his staff up to date with the latest regulations.
“It could take a long time for us to update our systems to deal with the new rules,” he adds.
But many hotel operators are also concerned about what will happen if hotel guests leave the state.
In response, the tourism board will hold public meetings to address hotel concerns.
In addition, the board has said it will hold hearings in October on whether to allow more vacation houses to open in other states, as long as the rules are set at the local level.
Hotel owners are also worried that the new regulations will limit their ability to operate in other countries.
“In many cases, I’m afraid they will be forced to relocate to a different state, and I wouldn’t be too happy with that,” says Michael Gull, a hotel operator who says his industry is in the midst of a recession.
“I can’t see them coming to Hawaii,” he added.