Pacific | Hawai'i

‘It’s safe’ - Maui residents want tourists to return

Following the worst wildfires in over 100 years, the Hawaiian island of Maui is experiencing a major decrease in visitors for this time of the year - less than a quarter of the number usually seen at this time of the year.

“It’s safe,” says Hawaiian Tourism Authority public affairs officer Ilihia Gionson.

“Visitors are welcome to the rest of the island of Maui and the rest of the Hawaiian Islands at this time.”

Local business relies on the income from tourists, with three million visiting Maui every year, spending around US$5.4 billion.

“We are hearing lots of business owners considering layoffs and furloughs of employees as a first stop, and there is some relief available from the federal government but many of these businesses are still paying off the low-interest federal loans they took out during Covid,” Gionson says.

The confirmed death toll from the Māui wildfires in Lāhainā now stands at 115. Recovery efforts continue as many people are still missing and hundreds have lost houses and possessions.

Gionson affirms that, although the natural disaster of the fire was tragic, he hopes that it won’t be followed by an economic crash because of it.

“We don’t want a secondary economic disaster to fall upon the people of Maui and the economic collapse… And that is why we are inviting visitors to the rest of Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands, so we can quickly recover from this strategy.”