A reservation system that was supposed to make it more convenient for visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial is now hurting them.
Admission to the Hawaii’s most popular attraction is free, but visitors are required to have a ticket, which means either standing in line or reserving one online for a $1.50 processing fee. The online reservation system allows a person to reserve up to 65 tickets at a time up to six months in advance, and there’s no limit to the number of times you can reserve them.
Critics say tour companies are hoarding the online ticket reservations, buying them in bulk, so when visitors try to get them on their own, there are none left.
The trend is having a negative effect on nearby historic sites. The Pacific Aviation Museum says revenues are down by 20 percent since January, about $150,000 lost in just a month.
Every day, the USS Arizona Memorial issues 4,500 tickets and only half are sold online. That means more than 2,000 tickets are available at the box office.
Ken Dehoff, executive director at the Pacific Aviation Museum, says tour companies are able to use the tickets they have reserved and include them as part of a package that includes transportation and stops at other historic sites. Packages can cost anywhere from $90-$130.
When asked how he knows tour companies are behind the hoarding, Dehoff said, “Tickets cost a dollar and a half a piece. There are very few individuals who are going to buy 65 tickets for every 15- or 30-minute tour all day long.”
But Dehoff says when visitors go online and see that tickets are sold out, many decide to do something else, which leads to a dramatic drop in museum revenue.
“We can make some changes, some modifications to the software,” he said. “We can take a look at more encouraging of people to take a look at the park in the afternoon rather than just the morning.”
Technically, the tour companies aren’t doing anything wrong. The reservation system allows anyone to buy as many tickets as they want.
Paul Deprey, USS Arizona Memorial superintendent, says he did notice that a lot more tickets are being reserved 65 at a time and the memorial is working to improve the system.
The important thing he wants people to know is there are more tickets available if you go directly to the box office, especially in the afternoon.