Wildfires have resulted in the evacuations of thousands of residents and visitors, and multiple closures of major roadways and hotels on the island of Maui, Hawaii.
Vacation travel to West Maui is strongly discouraged for the near future, and hotels in the area have temporarily stopped accepting bookings for future reservations due to the intensity of the wildfires.
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, visitors in West Maui have largely heeded the call to leave the island. 46,000 people have flown out of Kahului airport since Wednesday 9 August 2023.
The island’s travel industry is now focussing on the recovery of residents who have been forced to evacuate their homes and businesses.
Many hotels are housing their employees and families until the fires in West Maui are fully contained and travel on the roadways is safe. The hotels are also preparing to house evacuees and first responders working on disaster recovery.
Hotels, vacation rental owners and anyone with available space to temporarily house displaced Maui residents are being encouraged to make this accommodation available. The state is setting up programmes to connect those needing help with those able to supply it.
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Travel to the other Hawaiian islands, including Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, and Hawaiʻi Island, are not affected at this time. These are highly popular destinations with continual hotel property developments and acquisitions.
The Hawaiian islands have long struggled with overtourism. To combat this, in 2021 Maui began collecting a 3% tax from visitors, with money being kept to offset some of the negative consequences of mass arrivals, including environmental issues.