It’s not a surprise, but the numbers still manage to deliver a little shock value—tourism on Maui and across Hawaii is down. Way down. As reported in The Maui News, industry big wigs converged for the Maui Visitors Bureau marketing meeting this week and the figures staring up at them were grim—a 22 percent drop from a year ago in arrivals on Maui for the month of June, which led to a nearly 16 percent decline in visitor spending. Hotel occupancy fell 7 percent, according to The Pacific Business News. During a month when they should be flush with cash, Hawaiian Airlines announced that they barely broke even. “We’re in for some tough, trying times,” said MVB Executive Director Terryl Vencl when given the unenviable task of stating the obvious. And now we get to the part that’s unfortunately going to become something of a mantra in this space: The primary cause of this roller coaster-esque downturn is, drum roll please, rising fuel costs and the sagging economy. OK, since we’re going to be repeating that so often, let’s coin an awkward acronym: RFCSE. That’ll save ink, which, incidentally, is also getting more expensive.
The arrow’s pointing up, but in the most ironic sense possible. Last week we told you about the Maui Land & Pineapple Co. layoffs, wherein 274 people lost their jobs. Well, seems not everyone at ML&P is hurting. The Pacific Business News reports that the company actually turned an $8 million profit last year, and shelled more than half of that out to CEO David Cole in the form of a $4.1 million “compensation package.” That’s a whole lot of lower-level salaries that could have been paid, and less people in the unemployment line. Now let’s wait for the inevitable spin.
Bad news for car dealerships across Maui: New vehicle sales are down sharply on the island, The Maui News reports. According to figures from the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association, there were 2,768 new cars, SUVs and trucks registered in the county as of the end of June. That’s more than a 26 percent drop from last year. The smallest decline came in truck sales, which fell a mere 1.1 percent, something that shouldn’t surprise anyone who regularly drives Maui’s roads.
One industry’s bane is another’s windfall: Even as RFCSE hit travel and auto sales, those first three letters led to another record-busting quarter for the oil companies. The Associated Press reports that, with the cost of their gooey goodness on a seemingly endless upward trajectory, Exxon Mobile reaped the biggest operating profit in U.S. corporate history—$11.7 billion. That second quarter haul represents a 14 percent uptick over last year, and came as a result of $138 billion in total sales. According to World Bank figures, that number is greater than the GDP of almost 150 countries. Too bad nobody gets to vote in—or out—the leadership at Exxon Mobile.
Staying with the fossil fuel-centric theme, gas prices did drop an average of 5 percent statewide, providing drivers with a smidgen of relief. But—and this is where we wish we had an icon that was like an arrow going sideways—per gallon costs actually rose slightly in Wailuku, from $4.70 to $4.72, according to figures released by AAA and reported in PBN. So…take the Superferry to Oahu, bring your car and save on gas? No, that won’t work. So much for ending on a positive note. Points for trying? MTW