Business slowThe USS Missouri Memorial reopened yesterday morning to roughly half the visitors it would see previously, but the association that runs the memorial expects crowds to return over time.
as USS Missouri
An official believes visitors
interested in history will
eventually boost attendance
By Treena Shapiro
"Business is a little slow but it's better than yesterday," said Don Hess, chief operating officer of the USS Missouri Memorial Association.
The memorial had been closed to tourists since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
By noon, 239 visitors had boarded the floating memorial, a drop from the 400 to 600 tourists the battleship generally sees a day.
Hess said that a few visitors may have been deterred by heightened security measures, such as not allowing any backpacks, purses, packages and camera cases aboard the trolley.
Jim Grey of Sacramento, Calif., said the security measures were bothersome.
"I don't see how in the world they're going to find anything by dumping ladies' purses out on the street," he said.
However, he and his wife, Charlene, were happy to have been able to see the Missouri before returning home today.
"I'm one of the founding contributors to this museum, and I've never seen it before," he said. "We thought we might have to go home without seeing it."
Hess is optimistic that the number of visitors will rise.
"We think it's going to build and continue to build as the month goes on," he said.
The drop in tourists to Oahu will affect the memorial, Hess said, but he expects the Pearl Harbor memorials, including the USS Arizona and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, will continue to draw visitors interested in learning about the history of the island, as well as U.S. military history.
"The Missouri itself represents a major peace accomplishment," he said.
On Sept. 2, 1945, the Japanese surrendered aboard the battleship in Tokyo Bay.
"She sits here as an icon of the ability to overcome major adversity," Hess said.
Last week's events are not likely to have a significant effect on the memorial's staffing, Hess said, although he added that fewer tours would mean fewer tour guides.
Managers of the concession stands said that the weeklong closure hurt, but they also expect business to pick up.
"It's had a major impact of our company as a whole," said Kim Cordeiro, manager of Sharp Shooter Spectrum Imaging, which photographs tourists aboard the ship.
However, she added, "It seems really, really good today."
Elliott Yue, manager of USS Missouri Commemoratives, said he was pleasantly surprised by the number of visitors yesterday.
But he is concerned about the impact on his business.
"Our business is affected by the tour count," he said. "I don't know how much this is going to affect us."
The Missouri is sure to get some determined tourists like Mary Jo Savio of Mesa, Ariz., who said that after considering canceling her trip to Hawaii after the attack, she decided, "I just plain wasn't going to let it hold up my plans."