State's tourism industry prepares to take yet another hit

Dave Dampier
Dave Dampier
Margaret Scott
Margaret Scott

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - First, it was the economy, then came swine flu and now a hurricane. The state's tourism industry prepares to take yet another hit.

But experts say it's still too early to tell how Felicia will affect tourism. State tourism officials say they've only received a handful of calls from visitors with concerns.

And as of right now, officials are telling them that they should continue with their travel plans.

A whirlwind of national exposure. From CNN, FOX News to the Weather Channel.

But not exactly the type of exposure Hawaii Tourism officials want on their radar.

"Now is the time for the visitor industry to get out their emergency plans and see what needs to be done, what they should be doing, making sure their staff all know what the emergency procedures are," Hawaii Tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said.

So far though, visitors haven't seemed to have caught wind of the storm.

"I don't think the island's going to get washed away, I'm not worried about it," California visitor Dave Dampier said. "Yeah, I live in California, there's earthquakes, not afraid of those either."

Tourism leaders aren't that worried as well.

"As of right now, we have not really seen any increase in the volume of cancellations that we normally have," Wienert said.

For most visitors, a change in plans is not in the forecast.

"It's a little bit of a worry, but we're here for a week, so we come down to the beach and everyday we just make the most of everyday," Australian visitor Margaret Scott said.

But tourism officials hope visitors at least keep an eye on latest developments of the storm.

"It's like us as residents making sure we've got our emergency kits together, with water supplies, food supplies, etc., in case," Wienert said.

State tourism officials say they prefer not speculate about what will happen with Felicia. They say this only leaves unwanted fears in the minds of visitors.