Local companies remain flexible to survive federal shutdown

VIP Trans

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Day two of the partial federal government shutdown is starting to cripple some businesses in Hawaii.

With some of Hawaii’s most popular attractions closed, hotels and tour companies are changing itineraries to avoid cancellations.

With the USS Arizona Memorial closed, V.I.P. Trans is about to take some customers on a detour.

“Hawaii Plantation Village in Waipahu. It has a significant cultural heritage,” said Dave Betham, general manager of V.I.P. Trans.

It’s not too far from the original stop at Pearl Harbor. But not all customers are buying it. So far, 45 people have cancelled.

“Well, obviously it’s not the same thing,” Betham said.

Changing up the itinerary, also means training tour guides and drivers for a different route. Other businesses are also trying to stay afloat by promoting different attractions.

“They can still go check out black sand beach not far from us. We have a local winery,” said Janet Coney, office manager of Kilauea Lodge.

Kilauea Lodge on the Big Island serves many customers who visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Since the park has closed, they’ve had a handful of cancellations at the lodge and restaurant.

“We’ve sent employees home early or have let them know don’t even come in,” Coney said.

On Maui, Haleakala Bike Company is losing about $5,000 a day. Eighty-five percent of its business includes a tour of Haleakala National Park. With the popular attraction closed, the company is trying to accommodate customers in other ways.

“Downgrade them to a trip that doesn’t include the summit portion or the park portion of the tour, or move them to a later date,” said Lewis Upfold, manager of Haleakala Bike Co.

Managing companies and employees during the shutdown means being flexible and taking things day-by-day. Although these companies are taking a big hit…

“I do feel that customers suffer the most,” Upfold said.

So far, these companies have not laid off any of their employees and they’re hoping the shutdown ends quickly so they don’t have to.

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