Waikiki hit hard by economic woes

Justin Pichardo
Justin Pichardo
Annie Kung
Annie Kung

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - The economic slowdown is not only affecting Hawaii businesses, it continues to impact tourism in the Aloha state.

It's a pretty significant impact. Beautiful Waikiki has typically been the economic heart of our tourism industry, but because of the slowdown, it's been pumping fewer dollars into our local economy, jeopardizing more local jobs.

Folks from all over the world flock to Waikiki, but Hawaii is seeing fewer tourists than previous years because of the tough economy.

As the going gets tough, the tough stay home.

"Traffic, tourists, less people, like 20 percent less people," said Annie Kung, a store manager for a Maui Divers jewelry booth at the International Marketplace.

Even for those who are here they are spending less, like newlyweds Sara and Justin Pichardo, from Vacaville, California.

"We had planned on doing a quite a few activities and we've definitely cut back on those due to the economy,"said Sara Pichardo.

"We realize we have to go back to our bills a week from now, so it's definitely in the back of our heads," added Justin Pichardo.

This was Sara's third visit to Hawaii. She noticed a difference this time around.

"I remember coming here last time and you were having to push your way through because there were so many people so there's definitely a lot less people here," she said.

Still despite a growing concern about the economy, these newlyweds are enjoying their honeymoon, and making the most of it.

"We're going to do whatever we're going to do, so it's definitely worth it," said the newlywed groom.

Vendors hope more tourists adopt the Pichardos' attitude.

"I wish more tourists come back and we get more business," said Kung. "Right now we need a lot of tourists."

Many are looking for ways to attract visitors in an economy that depends so much on tourism.

Store merchants say they've seen a 20-50 percent drop in sales from last year.

We also talked to food court restaurant owners at the International Marketplace, and they said they've also seen a dramatic drop in sales.

Some say they barely make enough to pay the rent.  So they're also hoping the economy picks up and tourists come back to Hawaii.