Residents, businesses battle over Kailua tourism

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Kailua is known for beautiful beaches, local boutiques, and a peaceful alternative to Waikiki. But some want that to stop and they’re urging the Hawaii Tourism Authority to remove online posts touting Kailua as a tourist destination.

Jeanette Martz has been running a bed and breakfast out of her Kailua home since 1987.

Papaya Paradise, as she calls it, offers two rooms and baths, plus a mini kitchen and is licensed to operate.

“Selection of cereals, because we’re not supposed to cook. Thank goodness,” Martz said.

She has about 100 guests a year and pays the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau $300 in membership fees, which includes posting her business on their website.

But that could change.

“The thing I don’t understand is Kailua is a beach community and should be enjoyed by everybody,” Martz said.

The Kailua Neighborhood Board disagrees. Last week, they voted unanimously in favor of a resolution telling the HTA to stop promoting Kailua as a tourist destination and alternative to Waikiki.

“Kailua is one and North Shore is others. We’re not tourist destinations, we’re residential neighborhoods and trying to keep them as such,” Kailua Neighborhood Board Chair Chuck Prentiss said.

Prentiss says the HTA’s website is the problem with posts listing Kailua B&B’s and vacation rentals. He says it makes it harder for the city to phase out and enforce illegal operations.

“If you had three to four that would be fine, but with a proliferation of them and that’s what happened,” Prentiss said.

As of last year, there were 23 known B&Bs in the Windward area and another 60 vacation rentals, which went up 40 percent from 2011.

HTA says a ban is not the answer, but finding a balance is.

“It’s very difficult to say no visitors in any community. We all have to figure out how to work together and find the balance for the greater good of all Hawaii,” HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney said.

The Kailua Neighborhood Board also sent a letter to the mayor, governor, and local lawmakers.

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