HONOLULU (KHON2) — West Maui is set to reopen in three days to visitors. While some have said it’s too soon, some businesses have already reopened with modified schedules.
After the Oct. 8 date was announced, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen offered a phased approach to the reopening of Kapalua to Kahana first. The Ritz-Carlton and Montage Kapalua Bay said they will reopen on Oct. 8 and the restaurant Taverna Maui reopened on Wednesday.
“Many of our team members have been learning how coming back is going to be for them and we too are part of that learning and growth process,” Adam Jed, Taverna spokesperson.
He said over a third of their employees lost their homes in the fire or a loved one. He said not everyone is coming back to work right away and they will start by opening only five days a week
“We’re watching how people are growing and responding through this process it’s going to take some time,” said Jed. “And there’s no doubt as we reopen its going to be modified schedules and going to align with what the needs are for the community and the island.”
Duke’s Beach House Maui in Kaanapali reopened one month ago. The restaurant said more than 80% of business has been locals and returning to work was met with mixed emotions. Of the 200 plus employees prior to the fire, 180 went back to work.
“I understand the feeling to hunker down and heal and I also understand people are eager to get back to work,” said Nick Ware, general manager at Duke’s.
Several businesses in Lahaina are unable to reopen due to the unsafe water advisory
some believe it’s still too soon to welcome people back and hope people are respectful.
Most of these businesses are restaurants near Lahaina Gateway.
“I would have opened two months ago and helped take care of my community and opened to provide food for my community, just like we did during COVID,” explained Alexa Caskey, Moku Roots owner.
She said she still thinks Oct. 8 is too soon to reopen to visitors.
“I don’t think people are going know the amount of grief people are going through. People are naturally curious, and if you don’t know anyone on Maui and don’t live here, you want to ask questions and a lot of people don’t need to be asked those questions right now and a lot of people don’t want to talk about it.”Alexa Caskey, Moku Roots owner
“People have been thinking about it 100% of the time since it happened and I’m sure it’s going to feel like a disrespectful question even if it doesn’t come off as disrespectful,” she explained about visitors asking residents the same questions about the fire.
Visitors are already in West Maui, and visitor arrivals are up.
According to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, between Jan. 1 and Aug. 9, Maui was averaging 6,524 daily arrivals into Kahului Airport. On Aug. 10 through Aug. 31, the island was averaging 2,061 arrivals. In September the island averaged 3,145 arrivals.
The first three days of October the island is averaging 4,101 arrivals.
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DBEDT does not anticipate pre-wildfire numbers for the Valley Isle until late 2024.