LIHU‘E — With the local economy hit hard by the nearly-100% drop in visitors since the spring, local businesses are offering discounts as a gesture to the community in a time of apprehension.
Donna Hunt is a business manager of Silver Falls Ranch in Kilauea, which offers a variety of horseback-riding tours. Since offering a 60% to 70% off kama‘aina discount, the ranch has seen over 750 bookings using the discount in July and August.
“Three-fourths of our guests have been Kaua‘i people,” Hunt said.
Many of those riding are locals who wouldn’t have been able to afford the experience without the discount, Hunt said.
Hunt calls it the “Super Duper Kama‘aina Discount” that makes a regularly-priced ride of $100+ less than $50.
“This is an opportunity to do something for the community at a rate that’s affordable,” Hunt said.
It’s the sentiment that counts for Daniel Soule, owner of Fresh Shave in Kalaheo, who’s offering a free sticker with every purchase through the end of January 2021.
“Our main goal (is) for reopening, and the discount is to offer a sweet treat to our community,” he said.
Summer business is normally booming for the shop, but not so much this year. On July 13, no out-of-state travelers flew into Lihu‘e Airport, but 2,533 people arrived in the state. Last year around this time, 35,000 passengers arrived in the state daily, according to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.
Soule sees having a discount as a reminder to “come out even during uncertain times.”
Some of the discounts local businesses are hosting can be found on the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau’s KauaiKamaaina website. The site was relaunched a few weeks ago with the opening of inter-island travel, KVB Executive Director Sue Kanoho said in an email.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the county set up several Kaua‘i Economic Recovery Strategy Teams, including one focused on tourism including stakeholders, business owners and other leaders in the community, to generate ideas on how to reopen safely. One of the tourism committee’s recommendations was to slowly reopen activities with kama‘aina rates when safe.
In the relaunch of the KauaiKamaaina, discounts are sorted by accommodations, activities and other offers.
One discount included is Dale Rosenfeld’s Joyful-Ceremonies and Weddings that is offering 25% off beach-wedding ceremonies through the end of the year.
Rosenfeld reported that “the reality is, 99% of business comes from tourists.” Since February, she’s made no income from the business or unemployment.
Rosenfeld said the discount is more of a goodwill gesture to the community.
“I can offer kama‘aina discounts left and right, but that’s just not who is getting married here,” she said. “I will continue to have zero business.”
She currently has two March weddings that have been postponed, and thinks they’ll be canceled soon. Rosenfeld has refused to take deposits during the pandemic, fearing having to refund.
But despite this, she said the health of the community should come first.
“I’m not in a hurry to see the island open even though the economy is devastating,” Rosenfeld said.
Earlier this week, Gov. David Ige extended plans to waive the mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers to September, a plan that was originally announced to be in August.
As quarantines are extended, Hunt said the ranch will extend its discount, with possibly other specials to be offered in the future.
“We had a gal who doesn’t ride who just called us just to say it’s a wonderful discount,” Hunt said.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.