Tour company owner says, “we’re struggling” as government shutdown continues

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It’s day 17 of the government shutdown and hundreds of thousands of federal workers aren’t being paid. Here in Hawaii, private companies are feeling the pinch too.

Thanks to non-profits, private donations and help from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Pearl Harbor historic sites are open, but with no end in sight to the government shutdown, local tour companies are worried.

“This is the number one visited place in Hawaii, Pearl Harbor,” said Makani Christensen, owner and operator of Keawe Adventures. “And when that shuts down and people want to go, they decide not to come to Hawaii.”

Christensen says the government shutdown comes at a bad time when tour companies are trying to rebuild after tourism drops caused by the Kilauea eruption and storms last year.

“Right now we’re struggling, so unless we do something about it, nothing happens,” said Christensen.

He says his company lost about 50 percent of their gross revenue last year and he’s had to let go of half his staff. He said they also had to change the way their business does tours to adapt.

“If we didn’t do that, our company would be belly up right now,” said Christensen. 

Christensen says he and other tour companies are doing what they can to help fund the Pacific Historic Parks, but they are hoping to get some help from the state.

“I know a lot of companies want to donate more to make sure that this park stay open,” said Christensen. “Making quick moves, getting a committment from our government officials to ensure that these national parks stay open will save us from already a treacherous year in tourism.”

As for tourists at the memorial, many of them say it was at the top of their “must see” lists.

“This is my first time ever to Hawaii and when I heard that we were going to Pearl Harbor, I was pretty excited about checking out the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial,” said Casey Giba, a U.S.S. Arizona Memorial visitor. “So if it was shut down after travelling like at sea for so long, I would have been really disappointed.”

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