by Jacob Shafer
Halloween in Lahaina: the $3 Million Baby
For the last two years, Halloween in Lahaina has been a virtual non-event, with no permits issued for adult activities and Front Street left open to traffic. Though some—most prominently the Cultural Resources Commission—criticized the party, many residents, visitors and merchants have lamented its loss. But no one has calculated how much money the event once known as the "Mardi Gras of the Pacific" brought in. Until now.
A study commissioned by the North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund and conducted by Hawaii Pacific University Professor Jerome Agrussa found that Halloween in Lahaina generates about $3 million in additional revenue for businesses, mostly hotels and restaurants. The study, which focused on visitor spending, also found that revenue dipped significantly between 2007, the last year the street was closed, and 2009. Total sales generated fell more than $180,000, while restaurant sales on Front Street plummeted nearly 30 percent.
Whether the study will have an impact on this year's festivities remains to be seen. For now, Benefit Fund spokesperson Lance Collins touted the importance of collecting "objective economic data," adding it's "impossible to have a reasonable discussion without all the facts."
North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund, Inc.