Kauai businesses struggling to attract visitors after floods

Local News

Cleanup and recovery efforts continue in Kauai following last week’s historic flood, but despite the progress, local business owners are feeling the after effects of the storm.

Restaurant and shop owners are pleading for people to come through their doors.

Business owners told KHON2 they’re trying to spread the message that Kauai is open for business, but it hasn’t been easy.

“Although I see all the doors open, I just don’t see all the people,” Jimit Mehta said.

Hanalei is a popular tourist spot and it was also one of the areas hardest hit by the storm. 

Even with the progress made over the last week, visitors are scarce.

“We’re looking at a 75% drop in business,” Mehta said.

Mehta’s businesses in Hanalei town weathered the storm, but pictures and video of the flood are causing the most damage.

“A lot of the views and the videos are from last week and they’re still getting out there so there’s sort of a time lag between what was and what is,” he said.

Business owners we spoke to say they’ve seen slow days but nothing like this. Several of them have reached out to the Hawaii Tourism Authority asking for help.

“I had one restauranteur call me and said if you cant make things happen in the next 30-60 days, he’ll lose his business and he’ll have to lay off 50 workers,” said George Szigeti, HTA President.

HTA said it’s been contacting domestic and global partners to let them know the majority of Kauai is still open for business.

“I wanted to make sure I got that message out because there’s a lot of jobs at stake,” Szigeti said. “I think people optically see that and just think it’s the whole state and that we all got hit.”

Shop owners are getting creative too. Several businesses in Hanalei town came together to spread the word through a PSA.

Businesses are hopeful visitors will pick up again soon.

In the meantime, HTA is encouraging people to support businesses on the Garden Isle but it’s also reminding visitors to be respectful of ongoing recovery efforts.

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