Lanai campaign aims to draw day visitors as island economy struggles

Local News

Lanai businesses say they’ve been struggling for years, eight to be exact.

The Lanai Chamber of Commerce, which represents almost all the businesses on the island, says 2007 was the last good year for the island’s economy with $110.5 million in visitor spending.

But for 2015, it’s projecting less than half that, at under $50 million.

The two biggest hotels on Lanai are the Four Season’s Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay. Both are closed for renovations through at least the end of the year.

Together, that’s just over 300 guest rooms with no guests, and Lanai businesses say it’s hurting them.

The Chamber of Commerce says when the hotels are open, the island gets 200 visitors a day. That number is currently down to about 50 a day.

“With the resorts closed, we’re definitely seeing a huge fall-off in traffic. It was tough before, but this is really tough,” said Brad Bunn, chair, Lanai Chamber of Commerce. “From the great recession of 2009, Lanai has struggled to fully recover so it’s been several long lean years for local businesses.”

The Lanai Chamber of Commerce launches a campaign this month encouraging locals to visit for the day. All 62 members are offering deals and discounts.

Bunn believes that could mean $3 million a year for the businesses.

“Just an extra 20-30 day visitors coming over from Oahu or Maui can have a huge positive impact on the small Lanai businesses,” he said.

Pulama Lanai, the management company of Lanai owner Larry Ellison issued the following statement:

“Pulama Lanai is supportive of any initiative that benefits local businesses, including the Lanai Chamber of Commerce’s day visitors campaign. In addition to the chamber’s effort, Pulama Lanai is focused on keeping more dollars within the community by encouraging Lanai residents to shop and eat local.”

While the Lanai Visitors Bureau (LVB) is not directly involved in the campaign, it also says it’s heavily promoting Lanai, especially in social media.

Terryl Vencl, executive director for Maui Visitors Bureau, says, “LVB does not ‘package’ Lanai’s offerings. As a marketing organization, our charge is to promote the destination via traditional and social media primarily by sharing ‘new’ information locally and beyond.”

Vencl noted that bloggers are slated to visit in mid-July and August with posts highlighting various activities and offerings via Facebook and Twitter.

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