Visitor assistance organization wants you to know who they are

An organization that helps visitors in crisis is hoping to make more of an impact.

The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH) said many visitors aren’t aware of their services so it released its first ever public service announcement to spread the word about what they do, and it also includes a message warning visitors of property theft.

President and CEO Jessica Lani Rich tells KHON2 that VASH is a well-kept secret, though it’s not meant to be.

“When I mention VASH a lot of people say what, what are you talking about? We want people to know that we exist because a lot of people don’t.” Rich said.

Millions visit the Aloha State each year but for some, their trip doesn’t go as planned.

VASH said the number one problem reported by tourists is property theft.

VASH decided the issue was important enough to touch on the issue in their PSA.

“A lot of visitors when they come to Hawaii they let their guard down, I mean it’s paradise, it’s beautiful,” Rich said. “Many of them do leave their items unattended and they do walk away and some of them will walk away as long as an hour.”

VASH assists between 1,700 to 2,000 visitors a year. The organization most recently helped a couple visiting from Germany.

“They were on the North Shore and an unfortunate situation happened where they had everything stolen, their car, cash, credit cards, id’s. We put them in a hotel, provided food and worked with the consulate.”

That couple said they planned to come back to Hawaii because of their experience with VASH.

Rich hopes the PSA will encourage more visitors to do the same.

“We care and we want to share the aloha with them,” Rich said.

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