Maui’s major resort hotels reopen from today after the initial reopening date of October 8 was delayed at the request of local residents still affected by the devastating wildfire in Hawaii in August.
On August 8, 98 people died and 3,000 properties were lost when Hurrican Dora intensified winds up to 107.8 km per hour fanning the killer fire.
Maui Mayor, Richarsd Bissen, announced the reopening last week which means visitors will be able to again access the major hotels in West Maui that start at the Hyatt Regency Maui in Kaanapali. Lahaina – another part of Maui – remains off limits.
The strip of resorts along the Kannapali shore includes major meetings and event venues run by international resort brands incouding Hyatt, Marriott, Westin and Sheraton and popular with Australian visitors during December and January. Beyond Kaanapali, another popular hotel, the Ritz Carlton at Kapalua, did successfully reopen on October 8.
Bissen told a news conference in Lahaina, the historic former capital of the Hawaiian islands that was razed by the wildfire, “there has been an expression from families and workers that … there is a sense of readiness”, but he warned that not all residents were ready to return to work.
More than 36 hotels and other accommodation properties have been used to provide temporary accommodation for local families who lost their homes
Local authorities suggested visitors contact their preferred hotels directly to enquire about their availability as some may be operating at reduced capacity over the coming months due to rooms still being used by displaced residents, while potential staff shortages could also mean reductions in guest capacity
While there are still concerns about the impact on residents of visitors returning, the lack of tourism to Hawaii’s second most popular island next to Oahu, is reported to be costing the Maui economy $US13 million a day.
Tourism is overwhelmingly Maui’s major income source, worth more than $US5.5 bilion a year. The island usually attracts three million annual visitors.
Meanwhile, until visitor numbers return, events are being held on neighbouring islands to support Maui and the local county has established a website which urges people to buy and stay local in support of Maui products, businesses and events.
Authorities are still urging Australian and international visitors to return to support Maui.