Maui is grappling with the aftermath of the deadly blaze that devastated the historic town of Lahaina on the west side of the island. Tourism officials stress that the rest of the island is open for business meetings and incentives.
As of August 20, the death toll from the Lahaina fire in Maui has reached 114, and approximately 1,000 remain unaccounted for as first responders continue searching for them. It is estimated that approximately 3,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed, amounting to losses in the $6 billion range.
According to travel industry experts, meeting professionals must understand a town in Maui burned down, but the rest of the island is open.
Tourism is an economic engine of the island which welcomed 1.4 million visitors in the first half of this year. According to its economic development board, tourism generates 80 percent of the island’s wealth.
Hawaii Is Open For Business
Hawaii Governor Josh Green stressed how vital tourism is to Hawaii and that Hawaii is open and safe outside Lahaina. “We continue to welcome and encourage travel to our beautiful state which will support the local economy and help speed the recovery of those who have already suffered so much, said Green. He added that it would be “catastrophic” if Maui’s tourism industry came to a sudden top.
Meeting and incentive groups are also essential and should advance with programs outside Lahaina.
“Hawai’i is open for business. Maui is one of the four major islands in the chain. There are still parts of Maui that are open for business, Wailea and Mākena, to name a few, with hotel resorts still in full operation and welcoming visitors,” said Teri Orton, the general manager of the Hawai’i Convention Center.
She did emphasize that travel to West Maui is discouraged. Bookings for the other parts of Maui, which includes Lahaina, Kā‘anapali, Kahana, Nāpili, and Kapalua, are encouraged.
Emergency Measures In Place
Some meetings scheduled at some of the resorts on the West side of Maui have been relocated to other islands. “The Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau has been working with hotel industry leaders and meeting planners to ensure that all meetings that are being impacted by the closure of West Maui are being relocated to another island or a future year,” said Orton.
Right after the fires, the Hawai’i Convention Center became a temporary shelter for evacuees. The ASM Global team at the convention center worked with the American Red Cross to provide sleeping arrangements, food, and other necessities to house evacuees until they could find hotel accommodations on Oahu or get a flight out of Honolulu to return home. That has since stopped as the center looks to get back to business.
ASM Global is also donating Counsel for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), a contractor for Hawai’i Tourism Authority handling destination management. The funds raised will be used to support recovery efforts for the residents of Maui.