HONOLULU (KHON2) — Oct. 8 marks the return of tourism to West Maui following the devastating wildfires.
“It’s a very difficult decision,” said Gov. John Green. “We expect a small fraction of the normal travelers to come to West Maui at that time.”
On Wednesday, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen and the Lahaina Advisory Team announced that the reopening to West Maui tourism will take a phased approach.
“Because they’re staying in Kaanapali, we need to protect that area and not have them worry about having to move out,” said Archie Kalepa, a Lahaina Advisory Team member.
Phase one will begin on Oct. 8 including the area from Ritz-Carlton, Maui Kapalua to Kahana Villa. The other phases will not begin until an assessment is made.
“We’re also doing PA announcements at the airport, in the planes, in the hotels and once we have a chance to evaluate how that’s going then I know they’ll consider opening up Phase 2,” said Kalepa.
Phase two will include Mahinahina to Maui Kaanapali Villas. Lastly, phase three includes from Royal Lahaina Resort to Hyatt Regency.
For some Lahaina residents who are staying in hotels as shelters, they’re grateful for the phased reopening, but still feel it’s too soon.
“It’s kind of hard to go back into the service industry and serve others with that genuine aloha, when it’s kind of hard to when we’re not in that place to serve others yet,” said Kaleo Cabreros, a Lahaina resident. “We’re still taking lead over our family or our community.”
Meanwhile, lack of tourism continues to impact residents. Avis Budget Group confirms it has furloughed some of its employees due to decline in travel to Maui. However, it’s confident as travel returns to expected levels, it will be able to bring employees back. The Lahaina advisory team is asking tourists to show aloha when visiting.
“We don’t want it to turn into a place for a photo opportunity so we want people to be very respectful when they come here. Be courteous, be kind,” said Kalepa.