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Rising gas prices will affect boat shops this holiday weekend

Hundreds of people are heading to the lake to celebrate the Fourth of July, but rising fuel costs are affecting boat rental shops and could change how Arkansans celebrate.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – This Independence Day weekend, hundreds of people are heading to the lake to celebrate the holiday.

Besides, the price of fuel has also increased.

According to AAA, Arkansans are paying an average of $4.38 per gallon when they hit the highway for the holidays.

Meanwhile, out on the lake, boaters are also dealing with these above-average fuel prices.

“Last year at this time, we were $4.20 a gallon, this year we’re $5.95,” said Zach Roberts, manager of Kahuna Bay boat rentals.

This time of year is usually the busiest, but rising fuel prices are affecting customer traffic, he said.

“We have less business,” Roberts said.

Before the hike, the only price tenants would pay was a flat hourly rate, he said.

Now, since the boat rental place has to shell out more money, customers now have to pay for their own fuel.

“We can’t afford to keep people’s gas for them and such,” Roberts said.

Hot Springs Marina owner Gabe Galster said the start of summer was slower than usual for him.

“The shock of fuel prices, I think, has affected people,” Galster said.

All 23 chartered boats were booked for the weekend, he said.

Something to keep in mind is that people usually get 50 gallons of marine fuel, but now people say they are only putting 20-25 gallons into their tank this year.

“They’re hanging out [and] “Float and drift and have a better time that way than running up and down the lake,” Galser said.

Marine fuel, he said, costs more than gas from a standard pump.

“We have a lot of maintenance because our pumps are on the water,” Galster said.

That’s why both of them agreed to make it affordable for the customers.

Roberts said that’s not letting people stop them from renting a boat.

“We know people want to go to the lake and we don’t try to take that time away from them. We want them to enjoy this summer as much as they can,” Roberts said.

Both businesses are still doing well, he said, despite gas prices.

Galster said he is seeing an increase in paddleboard and kayak rentals.

Another way people are trying to have fun but save money, according to Galster.

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