HONOLULU (KHON2) — Signature Travel Network has held an annual meeting in Maui for 67 years. With the Maui wildfire disaster, it was unclear whether the island would host once again, or even happen. However, after much consideration, Maui did in fact see almost 450 attendees, and along with them, $2 million in spending, funded into the local economy.

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“There was obvious concern from the Signature Travel team for the people of Maui who were impacted by the devastation and whether it was even appropriate to be on the island so soon to hold their meeting,” said John Monahan, HVCB’s president and CEO. “We had many conversations keeping them updated on the situation as it evolved. As the weeks passed, it became clear to them that coming to Maui in a respectful and responsible manner was the best way for the group to help the residents and the economy.”

Signature Travel Network’s CEO Alex Sharp set several goals for travel advisors in attendance to set a standard of respect, responsibility and impactful tourism to the island and locals during such a difficult time.

“Holding our annual owners meeting in Wailea was not only the right decision, but it led to the best meeting of our 67-year history,” said Sharp. “For those attendees with initial hesitation that our event would distract from recovery efforts, all concerns were immediately put to rest as soon as they met local Maui residents, each of whom was there with open arms and gratitude for travelers returning to the island. Giving back to Maui gave our meeting purpose and the outpouring of gratitude lifted everyone’s spirits.”

Notable ways the group impacted the local community and economy include:

  • More than $400,000 in donations and silent auction proceeds for the Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund, Maui Food Bank and Maui Humane Society.
  • An additional $75,000-$100,000 from AmaWaterways based on its booking incentive to give $100 per booking for the next month to the STN Travel Elevates Maui Relief Fundraising Effort.
  • More than 7,000 pounds of supplies donated and delivered to Maui charity partners.
  • Hundreds of volunteer hours helping to make meals, serve at the Maui Humane Society and to sort through donated items.
  • Tens of thousands of dollars spent at the “Maui Market” at The Andaz Maui on September 8 supporting local Maui vendors.

“The aloha shown by the entire Signature Travel Network towards the people of Maui was an incredibly beautiful thing to see,” said Daniel Nāho‘opi‘i, HTA’s interim president and CEO. “They demonstrated that it was possible to continue with their meeting on Maui during a very challenging time, and truly benefit the community in many ways during their stay with us. I extend my sincerest aloha and mahalo to Mr. Sharp and all the STM attendees for their courage and trust in staying the course.”

West Maui – Kā‘anapali, Nāpili, Honokōwai, and Kapalua – will reopen to visitors on Oct. 8 as per Gov. Josh Green.

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Lahaina will remain closed to the public until further notice as the cleanup continues and out of respect to the town’s residents.