We get e-mails and sometimes phone calls from clients who have returned home after vacationing in Hawaii. Most, of course, are to thank us for our services and rave about the things they did while they were in the islands.

We’ve had a couple of e-mails recently that we find disturbing. They refer to unpleasant encounters with “locals” the writers had while they were here.

A little background:

Tourism began in Hawaii at a time when there was a steady U.S. military buildup and the creation of the pineapple canning industry. Tourism was spurred in 1936 by the inauguration of commercial air service. The tourist industry in the islands began to flourish, but people in Hawaii were uncomfortable with the presence of U.S military people, most of whom were Caucasian.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor pretty-much killed tourism, but after World War II, the U.S. rediscovered Hawaii and American tourists began arriving by the boatload. This was a little troublesome to some to the local people, who already were not happy with the military personnel population explosion. Fights were common outside the military bases, especially in the bars where military personnel would spend their weekend passes and furloughs.

Soon, tourism became the major industry in Hawaii. That meant plenty of jobs, but those jobs were menial and poorly paid. The resentment grew through the 1950s, then began subsiding in the 60s. As generation followed generation and the Caucasian population was blending in, visitors became more than welcome and “the people” became the first thing returning vacationers would say they liked best.

That good will is pervasive, but there still are a few young people who inherited their grandparents’ attitudes. While these people are harmless, they can be intimidating by hanging around your spot on the beach and purposely annoying you, and elsewhere by calling you names – notably “friggin’ haole.”

These instances are disappearing and are rare now. The state and local tourism officials are striving to eradicate the problem altogether, but perhaps that’s a generation away.

You certainly should be aware that you are very unlikely to run into such an encounter while you vacation here. Vacationers are grandly welcomed and treated as the special guests they are. If you do experience one, please report it to your hotel management or to the police – and to us at Hawaii-Aloha (1-800-843-8771).


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