Government shutdown forces local tour companies to adjust

VIP Trans

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Tours to the Arizona Memorial are bread and butter for a lot of tour companies.

But since the three-week government shutdown 17 years ago, many local companies learned a lesson, including VIP Trans. The company does have a number of tours scheduled for the Arizona.

“It’s going to impact our tours that go out to Pearl Harbor. Since the Arizona Memorial is closed, it’s going to impact everything that we’ve already pre-booked for the period. So we’re going to have to go back to all these guests and explain to them or offer them an alternate package like the Missouri,” said David Etham, VIP Trans.

VIP Trans informs their tour groups that the Arizona may be closed, but other attractions like the USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum are still open.

“For us, we’re a little bit more diversified. We carry different types of business. It’s not going to impact us as much as others that are very focused on the tour side,” Etham said.

The tour side includes Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park is closed down, but tour companies like Roberts Hawaii, with 1,500 employees statewide, have found alternative sites for visitors.

“Instead of Volcanoes National Park, we offered Imiloa astronomy and as of today, which is Oct. 1. Every customer accepted the change in the location,” said Percy Higashi, Roberts Hawaii.

Tour operators KHON2 spoke to said so far, they have not been adversely affected and no layoffs are planned.

But at least one tour operator had a message for Washington about the budget gridlock.

“End it. Please,” Higashi said.

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