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Increasing trade in the global community caused agricultural industries in Hawaii to slow down. Places in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia could produce the same products at a much lower price, causing Hawaii's plantations to come to a halt. This left Hawaii only one industry to boost their economy- tourism. Tourists from Japan were the first great wave and then travellers from the continental U.S. began exploring their lesser known state. Hawaii's tropical climate and beaches were and still are at the top of traveller destinations, especially in winter and summer months.
Due to tourism being the sole factor in Hawaii's economy, Hawaii became extremely dependent on Japan and the U.S. economy to sustain their economic well being. Government support for tourism was undeniable and tax breaks were given to the retail and tourist sectors of Hawaii. As more areas in southeast Asia and other areas became known for their tourist destinations, Hawaii's tourist industry became more competitive. The higher costs of travelling and spending in Hawaii at times made the tourist economy suffer. The Jones Act, initially established for strategic military protection nearly 86 years ago requires cargo moving between any U.S. state and Hawaii be owned, operated and manned by Americans only. Problems with this act is that it has created a monopoly of only two cargo carriers to be allowed in to Hawaii to deliver necessary goods and products. The monopoly has succeeded in raising Hawaii's prices on nearly every good purchased (i.e. milk prices are nearly $7/gallon).
The "Japanese bubble" economy in the 1980s helped Hawaii's real estate values increase but with the burst of the bubble, residents of Hawaii were hardly able to buy houses. During that time, strength in the Japanese economy led to Japanese investors buying Hawaii's land at an alarming rate, pushing prices of real estate in Hawaii up to prices Hawaii had never seen before. Nearly a decade had passed before prices began to decrease to near comparable levels where they had been originally. Still today, real estate in Hawaii compared to comparable houses on the continental U.S. is high in price.
The price of paradise is not exactly an untrue saying.