EXCLUSIVE: Rule changes threaten Waikiki beachboy businesses

Rule changes threaten Waikiki beachboys
Published: Nov. 18, 2013 at 3:57 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2013 at 10:14 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ocean recreation companies in Waikiki are protesting proposed new state fees and other rule changes they say threaten longtime beachboy concessions and other businesses.

"It's like they are trying to choke out the beachboys. They look at it more like how much can they make instead of (the impact on) the tradition of the beach boys," said Aaron Rutledge, manager of Star Beachboys.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is proposing to levy a 3 percent fee on all business generated by catamaran tours. It also wants to increase fees on surf board rentals from 10 cents per rental to $1.00.

It's the first re-write in over 30 years of the state fees imposed on the businesses that helped make Waikiki famous around the world.

The state said it's only trying to streamline and standardize its fee schedule for all ocean recreation companies statewide.

"The fees we fee are reasonable. It's what everybody else is paying," said Ed Underwood, administrator for the DLNR's Boating and Ocean Recreation Division.

The new rules also would repeal all operator permits -- while eliminating lifesaving training certifications -- required for all Waikiki surf board instructors, sailing instructors and catamaran and canoe captains.

That, said Rutledge, will open the door for unqualified "fly by night" companies to proliferate, creating potential safety problems and weakening the Waikiki brand.

"If someone takes a surfing lesson from an unqualified person from an unqualified person and gets hurt, that word of unqualified person is never going to pop up. It's going to pop up as beachboys," said Rutledge.

The new rules still have to be finalized and will go to the DLNR's board for further review in January.

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