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Friday, April 07, 2006



Since the tsumani in southeast asia and the Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2004 & 2005 destroyed so many winter resort meccas around the world, Mau'i has seen a marked increase in visitors.

Initially, these visitors were FIT's (Financially Independent Travelers). FIT's are money spenders. They go places and do things. They come here to relax and have fun. These visitors are the life blood of our tourist based economy.

This winter we had very few.

Instead, all the major hotels are booked out by major corporations for their annual group meetings. Groups are great for the resort/hotels. They have had an occupancy rate of 95-98% all winter. But groups tend to stay "on campus" and only partake of the recreational agenda provided by their corporation. If the company ain't paying for it, they're not doing it. Groups are traditionally frugal. Actually, they are down right cheap!

This causes a trickle down effect on the local economy. Since groups don't do "things", then local tourist related businesses lose income. Their employees work fewer hours and thus have less disposable income for their own social needs. Second tier industries have less call for their services as a result.

What little money is spent by group members is usually "on campus" . A delight for the resorts but a bane for everyone else.

The sponsoring corporations of groups are heavy hitters in the tourist industry. They enjoy their annual "get togethers" and currently have few choices in the world to go. For us it has becomed a mixed blessing. I hope we survive.

Corporations want a location that is safe, warm, luxurious, and easily accessible. Currently that just about limits their selection to the State of Hawai'i's various resorts.

Any location that requires a passport is chopped from the corporate selection list. Turn around time from application to issuance of a passport is now nearly one year. Our State Department treats applicants as if they are terrorists attempting to elude Dubya's God sanctioned crusade for world domination.

A few years back we had a multi-level marketing group with their top producers. They were way out of their league. Awed by The Grand, they were a Motel 6 crowd.

On their one "free" night, Jim G. took a group of 6 to dinner. At Denny's. The fare then was $8.25. On arrival, these 6 clowns "chased their tail 'round the tree" trying to determine what each's share of the taximeter was.

Jim finally said, out of frustration, "Look. This one is on me. Its obvious, by your choice of restaurant and this petty bickering, that not one of you has the financial ability to just hand me a 'ten-spot' and say 'keep the change'. You folks need the money more than I do." He even handed them $5 and told them that dessert was on him, but they would have to "split it" six ways.

I admire properly executed sarcasm. ;)

When I started my shift last night tere were 9 cabs on duty. An hour later we were down to 7 and by 11:00pm we had 3, one more than we really needed for the entire night.

I didn't get my first run until 8:50pm but still was "top dawg" at 2:00am. And I added 3 more runs during my solo period.

The most interesting ride of the night was a very intoxicated couple from Wales, UK. Picked them up at the "Triangle" and took them to the Best Western motel (yes, we have them here, too). I had to admonish him about bringing an open container of beer into the vehicle. He said I was "a 'bloody copper'" for "nicking' him". Little did he realize how close to the truth he was. :) (I think "nicked" is the British slang equivalent of the American slang term "busted")

He and his lady companion couldn't stop their beratement of the British, the Scottish, the Irish, all police officers and THE Queen, especially THE Queen. I'd like to think that all Welsh do not have that much of an inferiority complex. The few others I have met didn't seem to.

As spring progresses, we tend to slow down each month until the 15th of June, when our summer tourist season begins. We seldom have groups in the summer. I hope we can survive until then.


"Let's all be careful out there!"