HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Maui fire disaster is having impacts on the entire island, even portions not touched by the flames and some local business owners said they are afraid of an economic downfall without the support from visitors.
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Lahaina and West Maui are still off limits to the public, it is a message from officials and residents are making loud and clear, but the rest of the Maui community still needs to sustain itself.
Lahaina resident and musician Akoni Palomino lost his home and his main source of income.
“Please respect the West Side, let our families have time to grieve and take care of all these things that we need to for now on the West side, but definitely support all those businesses on the other side,” Palomino said.
“I’m a musician and I play seven days a week here on Maui all in the West Side so as of right now all of our gigs are completely shut down,” Palomino continued.
The island is starting to see a sharp drop in visitors.
While some Maui residents have expressed their concerns about the island’s dependency on tourism, they know that industry continues to be the main economic driver.
Gov. Josh Green said the rest of Maui and the state remains open for tourism.
Green said, “What we’re saying now is travel should not be to West Maui but the other parts of Maui are safe and the rest of the state of course is also safe.”
The Chef and Owner of Maui Fresh Streatery Kyle Kawakami has given hundreds of plate lunches out to those affected. He and other small businesses are participating in the “Pay it Forward” initiative, people from around the world are buying meals for those on Maui.
“Small businesses like us that want to give back to the community and be active for us to do that we need to be able to stay busy,” Kawakami said. “We’re able to feed those that were impacted and it also helps to stimulate our local small business economy.”
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These are small business owners and workers who will need support for foreseen future.