State parks exploring Diamond Head t-shirt sales

Published On: Sep 19 2012 05:09:00 PM HST

The growing popularity of Diamond Head combined with shrinking budget revenues has the state parks department eyeing ways to make money to help manage the monument.

The summer, the visitor count at Diamond Head trail was averaging more than 3,000 a day.

With that pushing the annual count closer to a million, it is hard to not think of that in terms of dollar signs.

"We need to be more entrepreneurial, looking at ways other states have generated more income for their parks," said deputy parks administrator Curt Cottrell.

But the department hasn't had to look far to see how other major visitor attractions on the island are mining the turnstiles.

The Arizona Memorial attracts 1.6 million visitors annually and gift shop sales run by a nonprofit goes to help defray National Park Service costs.

One couple visiting from Indiana bought magnets from the Arizona Memorial on Tuesday.

They would welcome an official gift shop at Diamond Head  to pick up keepsakes.

"If they were pretty useful, and they were official and they weren't the junk you see elsewhere, that would be nice," said Richard Van Gorp.

"When they are in the national parks and the memorial and you know its going back, we are more apt to spend money at those places than walking in Waikiki," said Karen Van Gorp.

At Haunama Bay, which draws close to a million visitors every year-- just a small take from the gift shop contributes to the effort to manage the marine preserve and help with the University of Hawaii's educational programs.

"They do it at Pearl Harbor and Hanauma Bay. They are very lucrative. Diamond Head, with 3,000 visitors a day, clearly there are people who would be willing to buying state park merchandise,” said Cottrell.

At one time the state had a problem with illegal t-shirt venders operating in the crater. Some were even scamming visitors.  A crackdown has mostly done away with the problem.

Now the focus is on cashing in on the natural resource while helping to better manage it.

"We are looking at a small and discreet gift shop within our interpretation center where visitors can get information but buy t- shirts, and water bottles,” said Cottrell.

"I think the idea is a good one if marketed well. My idea is, you buy a t- shirt and you get into the park for free, so it’s a win, win for everyone." said Cole Jones.

Other park goers say they just don't want to be gauged.

The state isn't ready to roll out anything official just yet.

But already on the internet there are visitors wanting to buy t-shirts that say " I hiked Diamond Head," And there are people already selling them.


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