Paving the Way for Tourism
Hawai`i officials understood the connection between scenic roads and tourism by the late 1800s. Scenic motor roads that provided an up-close view of nature were an early twentieth-century highway innovation. Although a multi-purpose route, the Hāna Belt Road is Hawai‘i’s foremost example of a locally developed scenic byway. Its history demonstrates the evolving reasons for its construction, which began with the premise of opening East Maui for settlement and agriculture, but ended with the concept that scenic byways were commercial enterprises designed to build tourism as a new, third “industry.” Maui's public-spirited civic leaders wanted to use scenic byways to provide access to unique landscapes and natural wonders, especially the Hāna Coast and Haleakalā Crater. Building the Hāna Belt Road through the isolated, sparsely populated East Maui wilderness was a substantial civic achievement for a remote island community and required a great commitment of financial, political, and engineering resources.
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