Some businesses in small Maui town get tourism boost

WAILUKU — Some local shops and restaurants in a small town on Maui’s north shore say they have experienced a boost in tourism since the state launched a pre-travel coronavirus testing program in October.

Owners of stores in Paia, known for its small shops and its proximity to big wave surf spots, said the policy change has helped business in recent weeks, the Maui News reported Tuesday.

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At San Lorenzo Bikinis Maui, Store Manager Breanna Racoma said business has been “pretty good” since tourists were allowed starting in October to bypass a 14-day quarantine and instead prove they tested negative before they traveled to the island.

A few eateries in Paia have had customers waiting in line for food, even on weekdays. Some of the shops include the Paia Fish Market, Flatbread Company, Milagros Food Company and Tobi’s Shave Ice North Shore.

Racoma said her store gets about 11 to 25 walk-ins a day — almost as many as the store served before the pandemic.

“Some days are dead, but then other days it’ll be cranking,” said Stu Soley, an owner of Soley Aloha Boutique & Gallery. “Things have been pretty good.”

His wife, Billie Soley, said that the couple had to close their original location at the Maui Tropical Plantation in March.

Several of the town’s shops remain closed or have reduced their hours. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, Paia Gelato, Vana Paia and Surf Club Tacos have been closed since the pandemic began, though the taco restaurant announced last week that it would reopen for takeout soon.

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Other restaurants, like the family-run Bap Paia, opened for takeout months ago but have since closed.

The owners of the restaurant did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Maui News, but signage indicated that the store has closed until further notice.

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