Bill Addressing Tour Protocol on Lanai Advances
By Wendy Osher
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require tour companies to accompany passengers onshore when visiting small boat harbors in certain counties with a population of one hundred and fifty thousand or less. The bill was introduced to address complaints that have surfaced over unsupervised tours at Hulopoe Beach on Lanai.
Rep. Mele Carroll who introduced the bill said, “Time and time again we have received reports and complaints of private tour companies from Maui that have basically left their guests to fend for themselves on the island of Lana’i after being dropped off unescorted to certain beaches.”
Rep. Carroll said the situation is exacerbated by overcrowding, accumulated refuse, and overuse of facilities.
The bill specifically requires those with vessel permits for small boat harbors to accompany passengers at all times while ashore, if they are providing an excursion in which there is an expectation that they will visit state property adjacent to quasi-public property during the excursion.
Officials from Castle & Cooke Resorts, LLC provided testimony in support of the bill, saying it will help to address both health and safety concerns, and also the problem of unauthorized commercial use of Hulopoe Beach Park by Maui tour boat operators.
The company dedicated 66 acres of land at Hulopo’e for recreational purposes in 1987. Under the park rules, commercial use of the park was forbidden without a commercial permit, with 100% of revenues generated by commercial use to go towards defraying maintenance costs.
Steve Bumbar, the president of Castle & Cooke Resorts LLC provided testimony saying some tour companies have been encouraging use of the Park and its amenities, without first obtaining proper permits from Castle & Cooke. “As a result many (sometimes hundreds) of customers of these commercial operators wander about the Park each day totally unsupervised. We believe that these commercial activities overburden the Park, prejudice recreational use by the community and also create health/safety issues because their customers are unsupervised,” said Bumbar.
Opponents to the measure include Paradise Cruise Ltd. Reg White, the company’s Vice President of Project Development said the bill is aimed at fixing something that is a local enforcement problem, not something that requires a legislative fix.
DLNR Chairperson William Aila Jr. also testified against the bill saying the department should not have to shoulder the responsibility of monitoring, investigating, and responding to complaints about visitor activities on public land, which is outside the purview of the DLNR small boat harbors. He said other agencies and property owners should be responsible for enforcing their own rules and regulations.
House Bill 1486 HD1 advanced out of the Joint House Committees on Water, Land, & Ocean Resources and the Judiciary yesterday, and now heads to the full House for a floor vote.