The more than 1.1 million visitors to Haleakala National Park in 2010 spent nearly $75 million in the park and on the island, and supported 861 jobs, a new National Park Service report showed.
"The people and the business owners in communities near national parks have always known their economic value," said Haleakala National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a news release about the report. "Haleakala National Park is clean, green fuel for the engine that drives our local economy."
Fred Romanchak, owner of Kula Lodge, which is on the route to the summit of Haleakala, said that the national park is "very much a part of our business."
Early risers enjoy a recent sunrise at the summit of Haleakala. A National Park Service report shows that Haleakala National Park generated nearly $75 million in spending from park visitors in 2010 that helped boost the island’s economy.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
He estimated that visitors driving to the summit of the 10,000-foot dormant volcano accounted for 25 to 30 percent of his total revenues. Besides the restaurant, he said that he has a flower gift shop, marketplace and the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery on his property and all are impacted by visitors to the national park.
Business is best in February and March and July and August, said Romanchak, who has owned Kula Lodge since 1984.
In the report "Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010" released by the Park Service, Haleakala National Park hosted 1,105,606 visitors who spent $74,966,000 in the park and in communities within 60 miles of the park, which is most of the island.
Of that amount, Haleakala National Park generated $2,597,128 in entrance fees at the summit and in Kipahulu in 2010. Haleakala kept about 80 percent of that total, or $2,004,983.
Most of the spending and jobs, 52 percent, were related to lodging, food and beverage service, followed by other retail, 29 percent; entertainment/amusements, 10 percent; gas and local transportation, 7 percent; and groceries, 2 percent.
"It's one of our iconic features," said Maui Visitors Bureau Executive Director Terryl Vencl on Wednesday about Haleakala. "We talk about Haleakala and Iao Valley as our Maui treasures."
Based on the visitor figures in the Park Service report, Vencl said that about half of the visitors to the island visit Haleakala National Park. And Maui businesses do benefit from visitors who stop for breakfast after driving to the summit for the sunrise, visit flower farms on their way down the mountain and take longer routes through Makawao and Paia. Attractions along the route back to the hotels may get a boost from Haleakala visitors as well.
"There is a great opportunity for businesses to benefit from trips to Haleakala," she said.
Leslie Young, spokeswoman for Haleakala National Park, believes that it's the vistas and accessibility to unique and diverse sights and experiences that attract visitors to Haleakala.
"I think the range of things to do" entices people to come to the park, including hiking, observing endangered plants and birds, experiencing Hawaiian history and culture and watching the colorful sunrises and sunsets.
"It's the variety that brings people to (the) park," she said.
The report for Haleakala was based on $12 billion of direct spending by 281 million visitors in 394 national parks and nearby communities and is included in an annual, peer-reviewed, visitor spending analysis conducted by Daniel Stynes of Michigan State University for the National Park Service.
* "Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010" report, www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/prod ucts.cfm#MGM, click on the report title.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.