Polish tours offer help to sinking tourism industry

Niko The Tour Guide
Niko The Tour Guide
Patar Kaluska
Patar Kaluska

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - With Hawaii tourism at its lowest mark in decades, some tour companies are having a tough time surviving.

But a European country is still coming to Hawaii, pumping much needed dollars into our economy.

For nearly 20 years, Hawaii Polonia Tours has been showing the people of Poland the many special places of Hawaii.

Despite the slow global economy, they're still making the long trip to the islands.

It all started 18 years ago, when the honorary Polish Consul who lived in Hawaii, got tired of hosting polish people.

That's when she decided to start up Hawaii Polonia Tours. It's a tour company run by Polish people who guide Polish visitors around the islands.

"Get people familiar with what's Hawaiian, show them the best places, leave some nice memories, so when they come back to Poland, none of my customers will even complain about their visit to Hawaii," Niko The Tour Guide said."

It's a rather small business with just eight workers. This weekend, they take these Polish visitors to the North Shore of Oahu.

Business for Hawaii Polonia Tours is down 10 percent, but tour managers say business has been steady recently and they hope places like Laniakea Beach will draw more tourists from Poland.

"Sometimes we bring groups of over 50 people so we bring quite a lot of money to our local economy," Niko said.

And that's good news for Hawaii's sinking visitor industry who so desperately needs help in these tough times.

"I think that the global crisis is much more to say but not much to see, it's a little bit overrated," Polish visitor Patar Kaluska said. "We spend money anywhere, if we don't spend it here, then we spend it in other places."

One small tour, trying to make a big difference in Hawaii's economy. Hawaii Polonia Tour managers say they're not only the lone Polish tour company in the state, but they're also the only Polish business here. They say that's quite rare because in almost every state, there are multiple Polish businesses.