A “wake-up call” isn’t enough

It takes courage to change, and forge a new future: Have you got that courage in you?

I was not at this presentation, and can only base this on Dan Nakaso’s article written for the Star Advertiser, but I am newly encouraged knowing that Richard C. Lim is our new director of DBEDT, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Perhaps that “T” should be dropped at the end.

Nakaso wrote: “Future of tourism called into question: The state economic director surprises business leaders with his stark outlook.”

“Lim, who has been running DBEDT for six months, outlined a gloomy economic picture for the islands and said tourism has essentially remained stagnant for the last 20 years and can no longer be relied on to move the economy into a prosperous future.”

He is absolutely right, and being kind in saying it’s only been this way for the last 20 years — try 30 or 40. The business model is broken; it’s dysfunctional, or in many cases, missing completely. Any business models which are in place for so-called Tourism Leadership are sadly irrelevant to our community challenges.

I’m a product of our hospitality industry, as is my values-based Managing with Aloha philosophy, and readily accept that writing this can be viewed as my biting the hand that fed me — but how well did that really happen? What is not mentioned in this article, is the sad fact that tourism has not improved our lot in life locally as its wage-earners either; I would much prefer to see our youth and all residents focus on industries which improve their standard of living individually too — and not just for the community infrastructure needs Lim mentions in the article recap.

Our state (and all communities for that matter) need not do for us, when we can prosper and thrive on our own because we work in more visionary industries.

Even if we blindly claim to be good at tourism, or Aloha-suited to it, it’s time we learned even more, and got good at endeavors which will serve us better, via the industries which rely on building our innovative talents with math and the sciences. Tourism has not sustained us well enough in exchange for all the resources we have put into it, especially when you count up our service-industry poor.

This part of the article absolutely floored me, especially reading who was quoted:

“Paul Brewbaker, principal of TZ Economics and chairman of the state Council on Revenues, told Lim that his ideas “provoked a lot of good thinking in this room. This is the first time I’ve heard any of this.”

Give me a break! If we assume he is speaking his truth, how has he come to hold the position he holds? Where have they been, and what on earth have they been doing in Hawai‘i economic circles if this is the first time he and others have “heard any of this?” Do they know how to read and evaluate all their charts and economic reports?

Will anything happen now that this speech has been delivered, or was it simply a way to while away some time for those in the room who are too NIMBY entitled and complacent? (stuck in the quagmire of “not in my back yard” thinking and will-not-try opposition).

Knowing all of which Lim speaks is one thing, and having the courage to do something about it is another when you have so many sacred cows grazing in your home pastures.

We can do better, I know we can. I pray we get the will to do so.

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