When business came to a halt back in January, 280 employees at Kualoa Ranch were laid off.
About 100 of them recently returned, but there's now enough business to hire as many as 50 more people. But that's easier said then done. "The biggest challenge by far is getting qualified and good employees out here," said Frank Among, director of sales and marketing. "Right now on certain tours we can't run them on Mondays or Tuesdays cause we don't have enough staff for a seven-day operation." The sprawling 170-year-old property generates 80-percent of its revenue from attractions, including horseback riding, zip lining and Jurassic Park tours. It opened at half capacity late last year, but business only started picking up in February, and recently online bookings have tripled. Although visitors from Asia haven't returned yet, ranch tours are selling out six weeks in advance to people from around the continent. The average right now is 1,300 visitors a day — that's down from nearly 2,500 before the pandemic. "Sales have tripled in the last month or two so every day we're bringing in a lot more bookings for the future than we normally would in a regular year pre-Covid," Among said. There's new vehicles and new tours — and once the state allows a return to full capacity, the foundation's laid to accommodate up to 3,000 people a day.
But first, it needs to increase manpower. With starting pay for ranch hands already increased to $16.50 an hour plus tips.
Produced in partnership with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.