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Kauaʻi to hear from community about managing tourism as visitors rebound

FILE - Līhuʻe Airport on Kauaʻi.
Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Hawaiʻi Public Radio
FILE - Līhuʻe Airport on Kauaʻi.

During the bustling summer season, tourists can make up one-third of Kauaʻi’s total population.

The high tourist traffic can lead to some tension among residents, says Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauaʻi Visitors Bureau.

Tempers flared at Lihue Airport last week and two people were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Another sore spot is airport parking spaces being occupied by Turo rental cars.

Kanoho says that in response to resident concerns, Turo operators will no longer be able to park at the regular airport lot — which is meant for people transiting inter-island.

"There's a lot of people who work other islands for, you know, their day job. And so we need to have that parking available. And so we had to communicate that," she said. "That was a little bit of an intense discussion for them to understand that if you don't have a permit to do commercial activity at the airport, you cannot park your vehicle there."

Instead, 150 stalls are reserved by Turo at the nearby Kukui Grove Center. A dedicated shuttle will transport folks between the shopping center and the airport.

"As you know, the rental car companies are paying fees to the airport to operate at the airport," Kanoho said. "So it was not an apples-to-apples comparison. And so after they understood it, then they're like, 'Okay, I get it now.' So I think it's gotten much better and security has been good about monitoring the parking lot as well."

Community members can offer their input on Kauaʻi’s tourism management strategy at public meetings this week.

The first meeting is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Royal Sonesta Kauaʻi Resort in Līhuʻe. The second is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 17 at the Church of the Pacific in Princeville.

Kanoho said this will be the first in-person meeting on this issue since the pandemic shutdown. You can register for the meetings at hawaiitourismauthority.org.

This interview aired on The Conversationon Aug. 15, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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