LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — With record-breaking visitor numbers and a string of natural disasters to recover from, state and county officials are looking to find a balance for overwhelmed land and infrastructure on Kauai.
It’s a topic is being raised after Kauai had a record number of arrivals in 2017, a total of almost 1.3 million people. This year’s numbers through August total 951,257 arrivals.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said there are plans in place when he spoke this week at the Lihue Business Association’s annual meeting.
“Let’s dive into it,” Carvalho said Thursday morning at the Lihue Business Association’s annual meeting.
Carvalho was joined by Kauai Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho and State Parks assistant administrator Alan Carpenter to talk about finding a win-win for residents, visitors and the environment throughout the island and specifically at Haena State Park.
Damage from April flooding made that plan a priority for State Parks, and workers are already starting repairs and construction on a replacement parking lot with an entry that will accommodate a shuttle stop.
Kanoho said the strategy outlined in a 2019-2021 plan for Kauai comes from a different angle than in the past.
“I don’t think it’ll be the status quo of more and more (increasing visitor numbers). It’ll be finding the right visitors to match the island,” Kanoho said.
That means a focus on connecting with visitors who are looking for what Kauai has to offer — for instance, targeting hikers and outdoors enthusiasts, and suggesting Oahu or Maui for those who want lively nightlife.