Here's another way federal budget cuts impact Hawai‘i travelers:
Tours at Pearl Harbor have been cut back and education programs at the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park cancelled. Sequestration forced Pearl Harbor to close at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m., while the boats that shuttle people to the USS Arizona Memorial will stop running at 1 p.m. instead of 3 p.m.
This means more than 1,200 visitors will be turned away everyday, according to an article by Pacific Business News. PBN reported that Pearl Harbor was the most-visited attraction in 2011, with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at number three. The cancelled educational programs at this Big Island park usually see about 12,000 participants every year.
While it sucks for tourists hoping to visit these places, I understand why the National Parks Service made the changes. They wanted to avoid worker furloughs. According to PBN, it was between that or cutting tours and programs. Park officials chose the latter.
These changes don't have to put a damper on your plans. They just mean you'll have to plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to see the sites without getting turned away. Get your ticket for Pearl Harbor tours as early as possible because I heard that they were selling out by morning, and – as always – be flexible with your vacation agenda. It's not worth the stress.
March 7th, 2013