How Is The Fall Of Lahaina Going To Affect Entire Maui’s Tourism?

maui
by Vaishalee Kalvankar

A recent wildfire that engulfed the lovely island of Maui resulted in the deaths of almost 115 people. Authorities had been actively discouraging tourists from entering the Maui region up until recently as they worked to navigate and seek to recover from this catastrophic scenario. But recently, this has changed, as it is now open for tourism. But the fall of Lahaina might affect the entire tourism industry on this island. 

Fall Of Lahaina

Credits: Canva

All of Maui is still grieving over the loss of Lahaina. Maui is now accessible to tourists two months after devastating wildfires destroyed thousands of acres of the island’s western side and killed at least 97 people. 

Though it was once the main attraction on West Maui, the historic town of Lahaina is mostly hidden from view by burnt palm trees, dust screens, and brightly painted signs on the highway urging drivers to “Let Lahaina heal” and “Respect the locals.” Residents are prohibited from entering freely at checkpoints.

Lahaina was the center of the region’s tourism because of its well-known eateries and exciting bars. However, the towns and businesses were destroyed. A few Maui citizens working in different businesses recently stressed that West Maui’s and the island’s overall recovery future is unclear without Lahaina. (As per The New York Times)

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Businesses Are Suffering

 

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Unfortunately, a significant portion of their revenue comes from tourism. The ripple effect of something like this can be disastrous, according to Jasmine Kilborn, whose company, Holo Holo Maui Tours, specializes in organizing exclusive island tours. 

It still states on the business website that visitors can “enjoy leisure time in Lahaina Town.” The four other employees of the company, including 42-year-old Ms. Kilborn, do not have jobs. She remarked that their business has suffered greatly.

Even though a lot has changed, a lot of the previous problems still exist, including the island’s heavy reliance on tourism, hostility between tourists and locals, skyrocketing real estate costs, and worries about disregard for customs and culture.

In the coming weeks and months, Lahaina will see a rise in visitors in addition to continuous relief activities. In the same hotels, displaced people who have lost everything are staying, eating for free, and attempting to cope with what happened. (As per The New York Times)

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Now Strangely Quiet

Credits: Canva

The place has undergone changes. Nearly half of the establishments at Whalers Village, an outdoor shopping center in Kaanapali, which sells colorful Aloha shirts, beachwear, and accessories in the shape of plumeria flowers, are shuttered. 

On Kaanapali Beach nearby, there is plenty of room to spread out a towel. According to the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association, West Maui’s hotel, timeshare, and rental property occupancy rates are below 30% and well below those of South Maui, a district to the south of Kihei.

46-year-old Frankie Urias works at Joey’s Kitchen, a popular Filipino-Hawaiian eatery in Napili. He claimed that the formerly crowded West Maui region is now strangely quiet.  (As per The New York Times)

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What are your views?

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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