This week, Olivia Rodrigo took to Instagram to show off her recent vacation in Hawai’i. Tagging a resort on Maui, she wrote, “Vacay dumpppp,” with a bunch of emojis.
While most comments were positive, quite a few were not. But in order to understand the context here, here’s a quick history refresher:
The Hawaiian Kingdom used to be an independent nation. After US troops overthrew Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom was illegally annexed in 1898 — despite some Congress members pointing out it was unconstitutional. Hawai’i was considered a US territory, and later, a state.
Since statehood, tourism has exploded. Because so many people visit Hawai’i, real estate is deemed valuable — developers snatch up land to build resorts, and wealthy people buy second homes that sit empty for much of the year. Celebrities have also bought absurd amounts of land. All of this has raised the cost of living to unbearable levels. Many Native Hawaiians have been pushed out of their homeland — where their ancestors lived for over 3,000 years. They’re also significantly overrepresented in the homeless population.
For years now, Native Hawaiians have urged people to stop visiting the islands. So, it’s no surprise that Olivia’s vacation drew criticism.
One person said it was “very unethical” to promote tourism to Hawai’i:
I mean no disrespect to her but can celebrities please stop going and promoting going to Hawai’i? The people living there don’t benefit from the tourism and it is very unethical considering the damage tourist do to the environment and just not respecting the culture and Island.🙏🏾
— Thatgorgeousrat (@Thatgorgeousrat) July 26, 2023
@Thatgorgeousrat / Twitter: @Thatgorgeousrat
Another wondered how tourists could continue visiting the islands after Native Hawaiians have asked people to stop coming:
how are people still going there after the people that lived there begged y’all to stop 🤨
— 𝑅𝒾𝒸𝓀𝓎🪲 (@the_rat_pac) July 27, 2023
@the_rat_pac / Twitter: @the_rat_pac
Some folks simply told others to cut it out:
stop vacationing in hawaii
— liberty (*๓´╰╯`๓) (@libc0re) July 27, 2023
@libc0re / Twitter: @libc0re
This person wondered how folks aren’t aware of the issue:
how do people not know not to travel to hawaii?
— belle (@baltubeibe) July 26, 2023
@baltubeibe / Twitter: @baltubeibe
And this person asked tourists not to travel to the islands as Native Hawaiians “are already struggling”:
I guess celebrities don’t read the local’s requests, that people should NOT travel there 😑 they are already struggling, pls don’t travel to Hawaii
— Mara but Barbie 🏳️🌈💗 (@DeadByMara) July 26, 2023
@DeadByMara / Twitter: @DeadByMara