Business owners speak against the Kailua anti-tourism sentimentUPDATED 8:02 PM HST Nov 15, 2013Video Transcript
Kailua has gone viral... And a Kailua board member says DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE .. Several news agencies have published an Associated Press story about the board's decision to ask the state to stop encouraging visitors to overnight in Kailua. Somehow that morphed into headlines implying Kailua is ANTI-TOURIST... As KITV4's Justin Fujioka reports, it's publicity that's not sitting well with business owners. John Pepper cooks up what he says is the "World's Best Cheesesteak" at Pepper's Place in Kailua. So he was frustrated to see recent headlines telling the world not to come here. John Pepper: "I WAS DISAPPOINTED. I SAW THAT AND I THOUGHT, THAT IS A WRONG MOVE BECAUSE THIS TOWN IS REALLY DEPENDENT ON TOURISM. A LOT OF OUR BUSINESSES, IN ORDER FOR US TO STAY IN BUSINESS DEPENDS ON TOURISTS." Up to 50 percent, he says. It's about the same next door at Bookends, according to owner Pat Banning. Pat Banning: "WE SEE IT ON YAHOO, YOU KNOW IT'S EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD AND IT JUST SEEMS SO RUDE. JUST UNBELIEVABLY RUDE. DON'T COME." A headline that's sending the wrong message, says Lisa Marten of the Kailua Neighborhood Board, which passed a resolution in September asking the Hawaii Tourism Authority to "stop promoting Kailua as a tourist destination and alternative to Waikiki." They don't mind the day-trippers. It's people who stay the night in unauthorized rentals. Lisa Marten: "THE NEIGHBORHOOD BOARD WASN'T REFERRING TO PEOPLE WHO COME IN TOUR BUSES EVERYDAY AND SHOP HERE. WE WERE REFERRING TO PEOPLE THAT COME AND COMPETE FOR LOCAL HOUSING THAT COULD HAVE LOCAL RENTERS." Justin Fujioka: "IT'S UNKNOWN EXACTLY HOW MANY VACATION RENTALS THERE ARE HERE IN KAILUA, BUT THE WEBSITE VACATION RENTALS BY OWNER HAS ABOUT 300 LISTINGS FOR HERE AND LANIKAI COMBINED." Lisa Marten: "EVEN THOUGH IT'S A LARGE NUMBER FOR A NEIGHBORHOOD, IT'S NOT LARGE ENOUGH TO SUPPORT ANY OF THE GIVEN BUSINESSES IN KAILUA. YOU KNOW, WE HAVE I THINK, 40-THOUSAND RESIDENTS HERE. WE'RE THE ONE'S WHO SUPPORT MOST OF THE BUSINESSES." Whoever supports Kailua businesses... Banning and Pepper ask, why turn away anyone? Justin Fujioka, KITV4 News. The neighborhood board resolution is just that... A The neighborhood board resolution is just that... A resolution. It has no authoritative power.