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Right after the devastating wildfire swept through Maui and took the lives of 97 people, I wrote this article: Jason Momoa and Tourism Officials Tell Tourists to Stay Away From Maui: ‘Not the Place to Have Your Vacation Right Now’ The messaging was clear and visitors listened. So much so that tourism and economic numbers plummeted.
Many tourism and government officials pushed back to get the messaging changed. They wanted the public to know: Maui is open, just not West Maui, where the tragic fires took place. However, despite their pleas and airfare sales, their message didn’t get across. I tried to help by writing this article: Maui Desperately Needs Visitors – Hawaiian Airlines Offering $82 (One-Way) Flights.
Some people thought it was too soon, a topic discussed here: Maui Really Needs Tourists But Do Locals Want Them? The overall consensus seemed to be that locals do want tourists except for the native population, which makes up about 10% of the population. Some argued that Hawaiians never really wanted visitors in the first place. I can’t really blame them, can you?
Since the two-month anniversary of the fire is coming up, official statistics are coming out, showing just what the hospitality industry was warning about. According to the State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), which released its August 2023 visitor statistics report this week, “Maui visitor arrivals declined 57.8% in August 2023 compared to 2022, with visitor spending also dropping 49.0% to $246.7 million. Total visitor days on Maui during August declined by 56.2%.”
Now, Maui is officially asking visitors to return. The Hawaiian Tourism Authority (HTA) sent out a press release yesterday saying, “After listening to the Maui community and visitor industry, HTA is supporting residents who work in the hospitality industry and business owners who count on visitor spending by ensuring that visitors return to Maui. The impact of the wildfires on travel to Hawai‘i’s second-most visited island makes it clear: respectful, compassionate, responsible travel to Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands is welcome and encouraged, more now than ever.
The Governor’s office (Josh Green) also shared a press release after he declared “in a statewide address that the West Maui communities of Kā‘anapali, Nāpili, Honokōwai, and Kapalua will fully reopen on Sunday, October 8, two months after the August 8 wildfires that destroyed Lahaina. Hawai‘i residents and visitors are encouraged to make travel plans to Maui and support the island’s businesses, restaurants, retail outlets, attractions, and accommodations. All previous restrictions for travel to West Maui communities north of Lahaina will be lifted October 8 and no one should be discouraged or reluctant to go and support the businesses and workers that rely on tourism in West Maui for their families’ livelihood.”
Note: “Lahaina itself will remain fully closed to the public until further notice out of respect to the town’s residents. County, state, and federal emergency responders continue with efforts to identify victims and the missing, and conduct clean-up efforts of debris and hazardous materials resulting from the wildfires.”
In a push to entice travelers to come, airlines are offering incredible deals. At first, Hawaiian Airlines started with $62 fares from California (Los Angeles and the Bay Area) and Las Vegas. But it appears they were snagged within minutes. I can’t find any but I’m including the links above so you can try your luck.
But don’t be too disappointed if you can’t find those $62 fares because prices are still extremely low, like $177 round trip, which is just $88.50 each way. Given current gas prices where I live, that’s cheaper than filling up my car when it’s empty … and that only takes me 350 miles. These fares will take you 2,500 miles, which is quite the deal. Here’s an example below of fares nonstop on Hawaiian.
American and Delta have $197 round trip fares as does Southwest Airlines. For Southwest, you have to book directly on their website.
Unfortunately, for my friends (and family) back east and the Midwest, prices aren’t as cheap. From Chicago, the best you can find is $397 and from New York City, it’s about $100 more.
As Travel Weekly points out, “It’s important to remember opening dates are shifting quickly; readers should be sure to check with the hotels before making travel plans.”
They also report that “as part of Phase 1, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua will open Oct. 8 with on-site activities coming in phases. Room service will begin Oct. 15, and its weekly Tales of the Kapa Moe luau begins Oct. 17. The Montage Kapalua Bay and the Napili Kai Beach Club also reopen Oct. 8 with pool and restaurant facilities available. Phase 2 includes most Kaanapali hotels, including the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. Reopening dates for Phase 2 hotels will be based on the success of the Phase 1 reopening, with dates determined after Oct. 8.”
If you do go, remember to be respectful and if you need tips on how to do this, check out Hawaiian Airlines’ Travel Pono page for tips on visiting Maui.
–Trip Report: Los Angeles to Maui on American Airlines
–Hotel Review: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui
–Hotel Review: Wailea Beach Resort, A Marriott in Maui
–Maui is Paradise But Their Airport Isn’t – Here’s How to Avoid the Chaos at Kahului Airport
–Trip Report: Maui to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines–Here’s How You Can Really Save Money on Your Next Car Rental