Summer 2018 Report

SUMMER UPDATE 2018             [HANA HIGHWAY REGULATION COMMITTEE REPORT]

The Hana Highway Regulation has been conducting research on the Road to Hana industries since 2016 through various roadside surveys counting traffic and logging general activity patterns. In 2017, the Hana Community Association adopted the Hana Highway Regulation as an organization initiative to address the growing concerns from the community. We maintain a database of commercial operators based on web research, traffic surveys, hot spot surveillance, offense submissions by the community and field reports by survey volunteers. We have been keeping record of the tours and transportation industry for nearly two years and just began expanding our database to include food and beverage operators. 

Based on our research, the Hana Highway has experienced an exponential increase in visitors from both independent travelers to commercial tours. The Road to Hana, its parking and comfort station infrastructure, was never designed or intended for this magnitude of use and its associated traffic and human impact. Based on our most recent traffic data, the Road to Hana is considered to be four times over capacity and is considered to be insufficient to service the current level of use which is creating issues such as but not limited to; overcrowding, illegal parking, unsafe driving conditions, private property trespassing, injuries, emergency rescues, unlicensed commercial activity, economic adversities, waste disposal concerns, public facility cleanliness, plumbing issues, stream and ocean contamination, health hazards and death. 

The Road to Hana Code of Conduct is available as a page on our website, it has been published by various media outlets and visitor industry platforms. We continue to push these guidelines for safer embarkments by all Hana Highway travelers, both kama’aina and visitor. We are preparing an infographic brochure to serve as an educational piece that outlines the Code of Conduct which will include a map of the entire route and other helpful points. We are composing various scripts to create media pieces for promotion through our airports, rental car companies, resorts, activity agencies and other avenues of pre-arrival visitor communication. 

We recently launched our Commercial Partners Program and Certification opportunity for both tours and transportation as well as food and beverage vendors along the highway. Our Registered Commercial Partners program is an independent verification system to distinguish operators in compliance and our certification opportunity identifies industry leaders in sustainable tourism. Some of the criteria for review include verification of business compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations for all products and services in addition to commitment of abiding by all necessary permit conditions. The company will demonstrate commitment to the Road to Hana Code of Conduct. The company will provide accurate information to guests that can be referenced and utilizes marketing that is accurate. The company demonstrates responsible travel practices in addition to contributing to conservation and community efforts annually. We intend for both the Commercial Partners Program and Certification opportunity to encourage better business practices along the Road to Hana.

We have identified illegal parking and private property trespassing as detriments to visitor safety and resident peace. These issues directly contribute to overcrowding and other intrusive effects on the day to day life of our community. Although increased signage has had some impact, field advisors report that continuing offenses to community policy are extensive. Sites experiencing difficulties have seen a 96% reduction in traffic hazards and resident frustrations when a field advisor is on the premises mediating and alleviating the offenses as they present themselves. Typically one or any combination of the following acts are the culprit of roadside chaos; illegal parking, private property trespassing, unlicensed commercial activity and /or commercial activity within sacred sites.

Over thousands of years, the indigenous people of Hawai’i have developed and harnessed knowledge that strengthens environment sustainability and fosters cultural well-being. We are drafting a visitor safety system program that draws upon this insight and connection to country to protect and manage land and shorelines along the Road to Hana. We would like to implement field advisors at the various areas seeing heaviest impact and complications. Resident volunteers will enter a voluntary agreement with the Hana Community Association and adhere to policies and procedures to protect the biodiversity; animals, plants and other species that call the Road to Hana home and to conserve the area’s cultural resources such as sacred sites and water sources. We will manage district volunteers impressing the effectiveness and value of place-specific expertise for the role of field advisors in relation to the visitor safety system.                    

More residents are expressing an affinity to protect the culture and wildlife along the Road to Hana but government funding is severely lacking and doesn’t meet the demand to protect the vast land and sea country of our home region. We plan to secure financial resources to implement phase one of our visitor safety system through a crowd-funding campaign and we look forward to your support in that capacity. An announcement will be made when the campaign is live and you will be able to learn more about the system at that time and contribute feedback to the Hana Community Association to help in final considerations as the project moves forward.