Wildfires are currently spreading on Maui and the Big Island and thus far have killed at least 55 people. Along with local businesses and townships that are being devastated, the tourist hotspot of Lahaina has been dramatically scorched.
Due to recent events, tourist officials are discouraging nonessential travel to the island to not add further stress to events on the ground. They are suggesting that those who have travel within the next month either cancel or reschedule.
Latest Travel Advisories:
August 13: 6 pm (Local Time, HST) – Baffling Maui travel advisory just released by the State of Hawaii
Governor Green released a fifth emergency proclamation concerning the wildfires, wherein there was no reference to greater Maui either endorsing or dissuading travel. However, in reference to West Maui, he remarked, “All nonessential travel to West Maui is strongly discouraged for the duration of this proclamation. Visitors in West Maui have largely heeded the call to leave the island, and hotels and other accommodations are needed for displaced residents and emergency workers.”
August 13: Latest advisory from Police Department
The announcement states that starting from August 15, entry to West Maui will only be permitted with a designated placard. Essential access placards will be provided to residents of West Maui, as well as to specific groups such as resort staff, first responders, medical professionals, utility workers, county personnel, supply transport staff, and volunteers. Verification of West Maui residency or relevant employment is mandatory.
August 12: Latest updated announcement from the Hawaii Tourism Authority
“Visitors Urged to Forego Travel Plans to West Maui.”
“Vacation travel to West Maui is strongly discouraged for the near future. Visitors in West Maui have largely heeded the call to leave the island. About 46,000 people have flown out of Kahului Airport since Wednesday. In the weeks ahead, the collective resources and attention of the federal, state, and county government, the West Maui community, and the travel industry must be focused on the recovery of residents who were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses.”
This latest announcement leaves tourists confused about traveling to other parts of Hawaii, as the latest advisory focuses only on West Maui and 4 days ago the HTA was discouraging travel to the whole island.
Here is the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority advisory from August 10, “People with non-essential travel plans to Maui are strongly discouraged from traveling to Maui at this time. Visitors who have plans to travel to Maui in the coming weeks are being asked to reschedule their trip for a later time. The island’s resources need to be dedicated to emergency response.”
While some hotels have been either lost or massively impacted due to the fires, others that are still operational are discouraging visitors from booking. Some hotels have been evacuated, others are currently under shelter-in-place measures and some are closing temporarily due to power outages.
Certain hotels are waiving cancellation fees until further information is known, but one thing is certain, all have maintained that all non-essential travel should be canceled or rescheduled.
It’s not just hotels, short-term rental companies like Airbnb are enacting their extenuating circumstances policy which waives cancellation fees. Vrbo will allow hosts to cancel and refund their guests for bookings between Aug. 9 and 16.
Airlines are also eliminating fees and offering travel waivers for travelers who need to alter their plans due to the events on the ground. Like others, airlines are urging customers to reschedule so they can use their resources to aid in the extraordinary situation.
Travel insurance companies will be feeling the brunt of this catastrophic event as many travelers will be enacting policies to offset costs due to the natural disaster.
Multiple aid organizations have set up online funds to assist from afar and urge all those who can to help by donating.