It’s Time to Say “Enough!”
The little town of Kailua is on the opposite side of the Island of Oahu from Honolulu. It’s now essentially a suburb–a bedroom community–but 50-plus years ago, Kailua was mostly beach houses used by affluent Honolulu people for weekend retreats. My wife was born and raised in Kailua and we lived there for 26 years after we were married.
Kailua is still a wonderful place, but Hawaii’s burgeoning tourist industry has changed this idyllic little town. Every day–seven days a week–tour buses wheeze to a stop in the center of town and hundreds of visitors clamber down and spread out over the few blocks that constitute the center of town.
As far as the tour companies are concerned, the more tourists who pay to be driven across the island to Kailua the better. Kailua residents grumble and complain, but nothing can be done. It’s a damn shame, but the tourist industry deals in volume.
As strange as it seems, the residents of Venice have the same problem, albeit on a much larger scale: mammoth cruise ships come all the way into the Grand Canal and disgorge literally thousands of passengers, overwhelming this extraordinary city.
Those of us who have been to Venice and strolled along the narrow walkways and over the pedestrian bridges can imagine the chaos inevitably resulting when 5,000 tourists suddenly descend on the shops and stores and restaurants. It’s an unworkable, preposterous, ridiculous practice.
And the people of Venice have said, “Enough!” In an unofficial referendum, 99 percent of the 18,000 people participating, voted to bar the giant cruise ships from coming into the Grand Canal.
This is not a new issue. For years, the 55,000 full-time residents of Venice have objected to this obvious and outrageous intrusion, but so far the powerful cruise ship lobby has prevailed. Sound familiar?