With the devastating wildfires still affecting the island of Maui in Hawaii, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) has issued guidance on travel to the island.
“HTA will be providing communication updates to our travel partners – airlines, accommodations, ground transportation companies, activity providers, travel agents, and wholesalers, as well as to local and national media – to ensure the public is kept informed about travel to Maui,” the tourism board said in a statement.”
According to HTA, Hawaii Governor Green has urged visitors to forego travel to West Maui.
“All non-essential travel to West Maui (including Lāhainā, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali, and Kapalua) is strongly discouraged through the month of August, Governor Josh Green said in his August 13 emergency proclamation. Hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations,” HTA explained. “The travel industry is focused on supporting residents who lost loved ones, homes, their belongings, and businesses. Part of this islandwide recovery is ensuring that Maui residents who would like to continue working can do so.”
Other areas of Maui (including Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, and Hāna), and the other Hawaiian Islands, like Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, and Hawaiʻi Island remain open — but they urge visitors to be especially mindful and respectful throughout Hawaii.
Further guidance issued by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority:
West Maui hotels to house evacuees and disaster workers:
At this time, hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations and are housing their employees and families, evacuees, and first responders working on disaster recovery – well over 1,000 people so far with more to come. More information on efforts to house evacuees can be found at mauistrong.hawaii.gov.
Vacation rental owners and operators and property owners with available space urged to list units for evacuees:
Vacation rental owners, as well as anyone with available space, are encouraged to make these accommodations available to temporarily house displaced West Maui residents. The state has set up a referral program to make those connections possible to support West Maui residents in need of housing.
Airbnb.org has also announced an initiative to provide free, temporary stays to 1,000 people through its network of hosts. Details of that program will be announced in the coming days.
Access restrictions in West Maui:
The devastation in Lāhainā is immense and unprecedented. The extent of the damage affecting residents, families and area businesses has yet to be fully understood. Experts have warned that hazardous materials are likely present. The area most affected by the wildfires is off limits to the general public, and we urge visitors to refrain from traveling to West Maui at this time. For updates, visit the County of Maui website: www.mauicounty.gov.
Assistance Center at Ke’ehi Lagoon to close on August 16:
The Assistance Center at the Keʻehi Lagoon Memorial Hall in Honolulu will close at 12:00 p.m. HST on Wednesday, August 16.
Operated in partnership with HTA and the American Red Cross to support those evacuated from Maui due to the wildfires, the Assistance Center has served nearly 300 visitors and residents since the facility opened at the Hawai‘i Convention Center on August 9. The facility was recently relocated to Ke‘ehi Lagoon.
Evacuees were provided with temporary accommodations until they were able to board flights to return home or secure their own lodging. Water and food was also provided to the evacuees, as well as showers, toiletries and clothes, as needed, all free of charge.
Shuttles offering free transportation from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to the Keʻehi Lagoon Memorial Hall are running throughout the day and can be found outside of baggage claim 9 and baggage claim 20 at the airport.
Airline cancellation and change policies:
Due to the wildfires and their impact on people’s travel plans, the major U.S. airlines serving Kahului Airport have implemented flexible travel policies for changing or canceling flights. For specific information check with your airline.
How to help:
Anyone wanting to make donations to help communities and families recover on Maui can do so through the Maui Strong Fund established by the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.
Due to capacity limitations in the system, please consider making financial rather than physical donations.
For all information from HTA, please click here.