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State Begins Charging Tourists Parking Fees at Hapuna

April 3, 2013, 2:29 PM HST
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The Division of State Parks has begun charging visitors from out of state for parking at Hapuna Beach State Recreational Area.

A one-year contract has been signed with Republic Parking to collect the fees at the popular South Kohala park.

The rates are $5 for private vehicles, or from $10 to $40 for commercial tour buses, depending on the number of passengers.

Residents of the Big Island or state are not being charged.

Hapuna is the second state park on the Big Island – after Akaka Falls State Park located near Honomu about a dozen miles north of Hilo – and the fourth in the state where parking fees are being charged.

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At Akaka Falls, there is also a $1 entry fee charged to non-resident pedestrians who want to enter the park.

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Akaka Falls and the two others, Nuuanu Pali Lookout State Wayside on Oahu and Iao Valley State Monument on Maui, have been generating about $700,000 annually, state park officials said.

They say that visitor complaints have been “minimal” at the three Hawaii parks where the fees are being collected because out-of-state visitors and commercial tour companies are accustomed to paying for either parking or entry to national, state or local parks.

Officials say the revenue is badly needed to offset state funding that has consistently declined. According to a statement from William Aila Jr., head of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, appropriations for state parks over the past two decades have dropped from $8 million in 1992 to $3.9 million – despite an increase in the number of park users.

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The entry fee revenues are being put toward maintenance and stewardship of parks statewide, Aila said.

Officials said the contract with Republic Parking guarantees a minimum income of $200,000 from the Hapuna fees. That will bolster revenues of a little more than $52,000 generated at Hapuna last year from the food concession and cabin rentals.

They said the state currently spends nearly $720,000 annually to operate Hapuna Beach State Recreational Area including about $254,000 for personnel and utilities and nearly $466,000 to Hawaii County for lifeguard services.

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