HONOLULU – High fuel prices and fewer airline seats are making local companies uneasy about the state of the upcoming summer.
Small businesses that rely heavily on the visitor industry said they are bracing for leaner times ahead. They said fewer tourists and higher fuel costs mean higher prices for fun.
Workers with Maggie Joe’s, a 60-year-old company, said it will cost more for a sport fishing trip. They said the higher prices are in reaction to the wobbling economy.
“The agents — I’ve talked to them over the phone over the last two weeks — they are getting a little bit scared too,” said Paige Thompson, with Maggie Joe’s fishing. “They are not seeing the numbers we have in the past.”
Thompson said they were forced to raise the rates to offset their business costs, but said even that won’t help much.
“With the adjusted fuel rates the way that they are and fewer customers, it’s going to be a long summer,” said Thompson.
The owner of Honolulu Screamer Tours said he’s also seen business drop. He said typically June, July and August are the best moneymaking months, but added that he’s worried because early season profits are down by 15 percent.
He said the high cost of fuel is to blame.
“We have jet skies and parasailing as well have free transportation. The vans and the buses use fuel as well — pretty much everything we do is fuel related,” said Greg Longnecker, with Screamer Tours.
Some companies said they could try to fill the tourist void with more business from local residents. They said even if locals flock to the industry, they have little choice but to brace for smaller profit margins and hope they can stay afloat.