Kailua board member: Tourism headlines misleading

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: Nov 15 2013 05:50:33 PM HST
Updated On: Nov 15 2013 08:08:29 PM HST

The Kailua board's decision to ask the state to stop encouraging visitors has gone viral, and a Kailua board member says don't believe the hype.

KAILUA, Hawaii -

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 and visit the Windward Oahu neighborhood.

"I was disappointed," Pepper said. "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."

He said up to 50 percent of his business comes from visitors.

That percentage is about the same next door at Bookends, according to owner 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,'" she said.

The headlines are sending the wrong message, said 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."

She said the board doesn't mind the day-trippers. It's visitors who spend the night in unauthorized rentals the board is trying to crack down on.

"The Neighborhood Board wasn't referring to people who come in tour buses everyday and shop here," Marten said. "We were referring to people that come and compete for local housing that could have local renters."

It's unknown exactly how many vacation rentals there are in Kailua, but the website Vacation Rentals by Owner has more than 300 listings for Kailua and Lanikai combined.

"Even though it's a large number for a neighborhood, it's not large enough to support any of the given businesses in Kailua," said Marten. "You know, we have I think, 40,000 residents here. We're the one's who support most of the businesses."

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