The Journal of Economic History


Fragile Paradise: The Impact of Tourism on Maui, 1959–2000. By Mansel Blackford. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001. Pp. xiii, 277. $35.00.

Sumner J. La Croix a1
a1 University of Hawai‘i and East-West Center

The introduction of commercial jet service in 1959 transformed the face of the Hawaiian Islands. By reducing both the time required to travel to Hawai‘i and the money price of travel, the jet plane brought increasing numbers of tourists to Hawai‘i, and in the process, triggered an enormous wave of development on the four major islands. Mansel Blackford's new book focuses on how tourism affected the development of Maui, a beautiful tropical island of just 727 square miles. In 1956 Maui had unspoiled, beautiful beaches; sugar cane and pineapple as the main industries; small towns with a relaxed lifestyle; just 37,600 residents; and only 29,000 annual visitors. By 1998 Maui had been totally transformed. The population had more than tripled to 121,000 residents; the annual visitor count had soared to 2,244,000 people; only two sugar plantations remained; bumper-to-bumper traffic jams had become the norm; planned resorts in Wailea and K\bar{{\rm a}}‘anapali and a more sprawling tourism complex in Kihei were clustered around the most beautiful beaches; and the small rural towns had grown into tourism and commercial centers.