This Native Hawaiian Woman Is Urging People To Stop Visiting Hawai'i — Here's Why_freckle removal pen review

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Meet Lily Hi'ilani Okimura, a 24-year-old Native Hawaiian woman living on O'ahu. She has over 83,000 followers on TikTok, where she regularly posts videos about issues that affect Pacific Islanders.

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One such issue that Lily says has been exceedingly harmful to Native Hawaiians is tourism. In 2019, a record 10.4 million people visited the islands of Hawai'i; the numbers naturally decreased during 2020 but skyrocketed again last year. In 2021, over 6.7 million people visited, despite both a global pandemic and increasingly vocal natives asking tourists to stop coming.

Many people on a beach.
Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

To learn more about the negative consequences of tourism, BuzzFeed recently spoke to Lily. She revealed that one of the biggest issues is that visitors are often deeply disrespectful. "A lot of tourists treat our land like it's some theme park," she said. "They will ignore warning signs, fenced-off areas, and 'no trespassing' signs, which can cause damage to our environment like erosion, vandalism, and pollution."

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Tourists bothering wild animals happens more often than you'd think. Last year, a couple from Louisiana made national headlines when they were fined for touching an endangered monk seal. At the time, Lily made a passionate TikTok pointing out the abundance of signs that warn tourists not to harass the animals.


Also, just don’t touch wild animals? Did you not take bio class 💆🏽‍♀️ #fyp #hawaii #hawaiian #kanakamaoli #hawaiianmonkseal #tourism #endangered

♬ original sound - Lily Hiʻilani Okimura

She condemned tourists who disregard the rules when visiting Hawai'i, saying, "If you can't be bothered to respect the place that you're going to visit, then you can go back home."

Lily Hi'ilani Okimura with text reading, "Tourism convinces tourists that they are royalty and that they are entitled to do anything they want here with no consequences."
Lily Hi'ilani Okimura /

A common rebuttal to Native Hawaiians' request to stop visiting the islands is that Hawai'i relies upon tourism. However, it's much more complicated than that. "We only started to 'rely' on tourism when Hawai'i forcibly became a US territory and then a state," Lily said. "Before, we were a sovereign nation!"


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