Honolulu, HI, Jan. 2, 2024 – Is tourism locking Hawai’i into a bleak future? Ahead of the first legislative session of the new year, Oceanit’s CEO, Dr. Patrick Sullivan, co-authored a paper with prominent Hawaii economist, Paul Brewbaker, urging state leaders not to overlook the persistent issue of diversifying Hawaii’s economy.
In the paper, titled Hawaii – Losing the Future?, Sullivan and Brewbaker warn, “Unless Hawaii takes note and acts, we fear that Hawaii’s unique people, culture, environment, and way of life are at risk – the Hawaii of the future may be unrecognizable.”
Patrick Sullivan, Ph.D., PE, is the Founder and CEO of Oceanit, and Paul Brewbaker, Ph.D., CBE is a former Bank of Hawaii Chief Economist, Principal of TZ Economics, and a prominent voice in Hawaii economics. Both authors have been active and vocal on the importance of undoing a current over reliance on tourism over the past several decades.
The critical point argued by Sullivan and Brewbaker is that tourism in real terms hasn’t grown in the past 30 years when accounting for inflation. Because of this–and as a consequence of many legislative choices over past decades–Hawaii’s GDP per capita has fallen to more than ten percentage points below U.S. GDP. Though this fall began before 2020, the pandemic accelerated the divide between Hawaii and the national average. According to Sullivan and Brewaker, the disparity represents increased inequality, homelessness, residents leaving Hawaii, and a decreasing population.
Read the original white paper here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/24251458-brewbaker-sullivan-hawaiis-economic-future
The white paper was also covered in an article on Civil Beat, which can be read here: https://www.civilbeat.org/2024/01/hawaii-economists-to-lawmakers-help-diversify-beyond-tourism