Businesses brace for civil union veto impact - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Businesses brace for civil union veto impact

Toni Baran Toni Baran
An Aqua Hotels and Resorts Waikiki property An Aqua Hotels and Resorts Waikiki property
Elizabeth Churchill Elizabeth Churchill
Jo-Ann Adams Jo-Ann Adams

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Toni Baran advertises her commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples on the Internet.

In seventeen years she's performed hundreds of them for gay and lesbian partners. Her rate starts at $95.

Baran said the sinking of the civil union bill affects her business.

"If they had said, 'Yes. We acknowledge same-sex couples,' then our business would have gone up as would the flower business, as would the limousines, as would hotels, as would the restaurants," she said.

At Aqua Hotels and Resorts Waikiki properties, management expects repercussions from the veto of HB 444. They just don't know how much.

The chain is a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

"This market is very interested in a small boutique hotel concept," sales and marketing vice president Elizabeth Churchill said. "They like the intimacy and service related at our properties that are located throughout the state."

A 2008 survey by Community Marketing Inc. said gays spend $64 billion in the U.S. travel market.

Gay advocates said it's a good bet a chunk of that is spent in Hawaii.

"Many of the people in the gay and lesbian community are double professionals. And many of them do not have children so they have a tremendous amount of disposable income," said Jo-Ann Adams of the GLBT caucus.

Churchill said gays make up a significant segment of Aqua's hotel bookings. The company's anticipating some negative publicity for Hawaii because of the veto. So it's ready to react.

"We continue to let them know that we're open for business, that we're positive, that we're supportive," she said.

Baran said, now more than ever, Hawaii businesses that cater to gays and lesbians need to make that message loud and clear.

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