Officials in Hawaii fear they may be getting too much of a good thing and are urging tourists to both behave and consider going elsewhere.
As pandemic restrictions ease on travel around the country, tourists are flocking to Hawaii in droves.
The mayor of Maui recently urged airlines to restrict flights to the island to help limit the number of tourists, reported Travel Daily Media.
A video that went viral on TikTok which shows a tourist on Kauai touching an endangered monk seal only increased the frustration, according to KITV.
Monk seals will sleep on the beach for hours and when they are seen, authorities usually rope off the area and post signs urging people to leave the seal undisturbed.
“Harassing a monk seal in the manner depicted in the viral video is a Class-C felony under Hawaii law (statute HRS 195D-4.5) punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. We have reached out to our federal partners at NOAA as well as our state partners at DOCARE, and the matter remains under investigation,” said Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar.
The couple has since taken the video down and apologized for the incident. They have been identified only as Stephen and Lakyn, but have been described as honeymooners from Louisiana.
Over tourism has been a growing issue on the Islands as pandemic travel restriction ease around the country. With international travel still facing numerous restrictions, Hawaii has become a go to travel spot.
“We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino recently at a news conference.
215,000 tourists visited the island in May compared to just over 1,000 a year before.
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