Is It Appropriate to Travel to Maui After the Devastating Wildfires?
Most of the Island Remains Open to Tourists
Is Maui open for tourism: The island of Maui in Hawaii recently experienced devastating wildfires that destroyed homes and displaced residents in West Maui. With cleanup and recovery efforts still underway, some tourists wonder if now is an appropriate time to visit Maui.
The tourism-reliant economy remains open, but parts of West Maui including Lahaina, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali and Kapalua are currently closed to visitors. These limited amenities are reserved for evacuees, first responders and essential staff.
Governor Encourages Tourism to Other Parts of Maui
In a recent press conference, Hawaii Governor Josh Green confirmed that the rest of the island is safe for tourists. He stated, “All of the other areas of Maui are safe and open. When you come you will support our local economy and help speed the recovery of the people who are suffering right now.”
Popular areas of Maui currently open to tourists include the towns of Hāna, Kahului, Kīhei, Mākena, Pāʻia, Wailea and Wailuku. The governor encourages tourists to visit these unaffected regions. Tourists can also opt to visit one of Hawaii’s other islands like Oahu or Kauai.
Tourism Levels Are Down but Flights Are Still Arriving
Understandably, the number of daily flight arrivals to Maui airports has dropped from around 7,000 to 2,000 after the wildfires. Airlines have adjusted schedules and capacity.
Travelers concerned about existing bookings should contact their airline, hotel and rental car providers directly to discuss options. Some may choose to postpone trips and instead donate to recovery efforts.
Non-Essential Travel to West Maui Restricted
West Maui will remain closed to visitors for the time being. Nonessential travel to affected areas is prohibited as hazardous materials may be present and damage assessments are incomplete.
While it may seem insensitive to travel to Hawaii so soon after the wildfires, the governor stresses that tourism to open parts of Maui and other islands can actually support the economy and recovery.
What Travelers Should Consider When Visiting Maui
Here are some tips for travelers headed to Maui:
- Avoid West Maui entirely – Do not attempt to visit closed areas. This impedes recovery efforts.
- Check with local businesses – Some normally touristy shops and restaurants may remain closed if staff were impacted.
- Bring supplies – With reduced visitors, some staple items may be in short supply. Pack extra snacks, water, sunscreen.
- Have backup plans – Popular beaches may be closed for cleanup. Research other potential activities in advance.
- Be respectful – Be sensitive that many residents are grieving lost homes or belongings. Keep conversations light.
- Support the economy – Eat at local restaurants, buy souvenirs, participate in reef-safe tours. Tourism spending aids recovery.
Maui’s Economy Relies on Tourism
Hawaii’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism. Nearly 25% of jobs in Maui County are supported by travelers. With far fewer visitors since the wildfires, small businesses are greatly impacted.
By visiting open parts of Maui, tourists can provide crucial economic support. Their spending helps re-employ residents in need of work and renews hard-hit businesses. Tourism fuels the island’s recovery.
The Takeaway – Is Maui open for tourism
It’s understandable to feel hesitant about visiting an affected region. However, most of Maui remains open and safe for travelers. Visiting open parts of the island supports Maui’s tourism-reliant economy and speeds the recovery process. While West Maui remains closed, follow local guidance and be respectful. Maui needs tourism now more than ever.