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Tourism sector won’t sustain us

Your recent headline, "Future of tourism called into question," took some of us attending Thursday’s Hawaii Economic Association luncheon by surprise (Star-Advertiser, June 3).

None of us, including Richard Lim, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, question the important role tourism has in our economy. However, we have to acknowledge that tourism as an industry has matured and will not provide the type of expansion for our economy it experienced in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

Lim’s candid analysis is that our government’s fixed obligations (roughly 80 percent of the budget) grow each year regardless of the growth of our economy.

We need to invest in industries that will grow our economy as well as maintain our investment in tourism. If not, higher taxes are right around the corner.

Frederic Berg
President,Hawaii Economic Association

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The Star-Advertiser welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (~150 words). The Star-Advertiser reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include your area of residence and a daytime telephone number.

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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813

Tourism’s status not a surprise

DBEDT Director Richard Lim’s recent talk before local business leaders was a wake-up call that Hawaii needs to form private and public partnerships for new initiatives and strategies to grow its economy because tourism may no longer be the engine that can.

Lim noted that tourism has remained stagnant for the last 20 years. But if our business people and the media weren’t aware of this, they haven’t been paying attention to the data that his department has been producing for years.

Tourism’s share of Hawaii’s gross domestic product reached a peak around 1988 and has been in decline ever since. Tourist spending, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for the past two decades.

The main reasons are discussed in a Sept. 28 University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization working paper, "Tech­­nical Progress in Transport and the Tourism Area Life Cycle."

James Mak
Kalama Valley

Many to blame in Marine’s death

My condolences to the family and friends of the 19-year-old Marine who fell out of a hotel window over the Memorial Day week­end ("Alcohol found in Marine who died in fall at hotel," Star-Advertiser, June 2).

I do not blame the obvious person (the Marine); I look at the unobvious factors that may have contributed to his death:

» Was he illegally served alcohol by a bartender, or did he purchase a highly potent drink somewhere? Whoever served or sold him alcohol products is also responsible. The drinking age in Hawaii is 21.

» The armed forces that accept anyone younger than 21 are setting themselves up for liabilities. Young males are more pressured to prove themselves to their buddies — what better way than to go out drinking?

A stronger message needs to be sent to our young warriors: "Welcome to Hawaii, but leave it as you found it, unmolested. Don’t commit any crimes!"

Nancy Manali-Leonardo
Honolulu

Don’t stop funds for mentally ill

It is with great sadness that we learn of the human destruction allegedly caused by a person who may have a mental illness ("Shooting spree leaves 1 dead," Star-Advertiser, June 4).

It is tragic in so many ways, paramount, of course, being the senseless death and injuries and the grief experienced by the families.

It is also painful to read that random acts of violence might be linked to persons with mental illness. The truth is that the vast majority of people who are violent do not have mental illness, and the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent.

The stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders must abate so people are not ashamed to seek treatment. Mental illnesses are very treatable, but treatment must be available.

The economic constraints on state government have caused cutbacks to both mental health and substance abuse treatment. The human costs and the police, hospital, and prison costs, far outweigh these shortsighted service reductions.

Marya Grambs
Executive director, Mental Health America of Hawaii

Lack of concrete not a good sign

Let’s connect the dots. Oahu has a concrete shortage that delays the completion of only 30 bus pads on Oahu ("Concrete shortage delays pad installation at bus stops," Star-Advertiser, June 3).

If the rail is constructed out of concrete that we have a shortage of, then how will the rail project be completed on time?

Also, when there is a shortage of material, the cost of the material rises. So can you see that the rail project is already projected to be over budget and not completed on time?

What happens when the blunder project is halfway done with no money and no concrete? We won’t have any cash, any federal money, and the politicians will keep raising fees and taxes for this.

Joshua Fish
Pearl City

It’s not too late to stop Oahu rail

I recently returned from the Bay Area, where its rail system is going bankrupt. Many closures of stops in smaller cities such as Belmont and San Mateo are being considered.

It’s not too late to stop the rail when we realize that we cannot afford its maintenance down the road.

We should beef up the bus system. Park-and-ride areas would increase ridership for seniors, students and others who need to get to the nearest bus stop.

Eleanor Tokunaga
Kaneohe

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