Hawaii Island’s wedding industry takes hit from coronavirus
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Business owners who make money from marriages on Hawaii Island say they have been badly hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
Postponements and cancellations have deeply impacted companies in the Big Island’s wedding industry, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday.
Wedding guests spend money all over the island, while wedding parties hire hairdressers, photographers, makeup artists, and planners.
The state’s stay-at-home orders for residents and mandatory quarantines for tourists announced in March have put destination weddings on hold indefinitely and reduced the number of local celebrations.
“We have postponed 10 weddings and canceled five,” said Kate Hickey, co-owner of Sunshower Farms in Holualoa. “We’re really pushing for postponements.”
Hickey has applied for multiple loans to supplement a lack of cash flow to his venue, which also operates as a coffee farm.
Hickey worries about the business impact following the pandemic.
“The wedding industry trickles down to every level of business,” Hickey said. “It’s a billion dollar industry, and one wedding brings thousands of dollars to the island.”
Tressie Richardson, owner of Haku Formals Boutique in Hilo, had to close her shop during the stay-at-home order.
“Being shut down has made me feel like there is a void in my life,” Richardson said. “We were in full motion and then had to stop.”
Becky Ringler, owner of Simple Kona Beach Weddings in Kailua-Kona, postponed all of the spring and early summer weddings she had expected to plan.
“It’s been devastating,” Ringler said. “I was so busy this season, and now there is nothing going on.”
Ringler has worked on rescheduling dozens of clients within a year, while others have postponed new plans.
“Some people are waiting to reschedule, and I don’t blame them,” Ringler said. “I understand why we have to take time before visitors can come back, and I’d rather this be done properly.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.