Except for fire-damaged neighborhoods, Green told the state Council on Revenues that in October most of West Maui would be reopened for visitors. The area to be reopened includes about 11,000 hotel rooms in the beach resorts north of historic Lahaina, in Kaanapali.
The area to remain closed to visitors is all of Lahaina, as Green said it’s important to be respectful of those in mourning.
Since the wildfires in Lahaina that killed at least 115 people on Aug. 8, most non-essential travel to West Maui has been discouraged. In order to allow residents and emergency workers time to focus on emergency response efforts, visitors were initially urged to stay away from Maui.
In the middle of August, state tourism officials began to encourage visitors to travel to other parts of Maui in an effort to help the area recover. Green stated that the decision to reopen parts of West Maui to visitors is to “bring hope for recovery to the families and businesses.”
Since the wildfires displaced residents, 29 hotel locations around the Valley Isle as well as West Maui condos have been used by the Red Cross to house fire evacuees. According to Tai Wong of the American Red Cross, 6,595 residents currently remain in emergency shelter hotels.
Officials lowered their 2023 economic growth prediction for Hawaii to 1.1 percent from 1.8 percent after the wildfire. After the fire, visitors arriving on Maui fell to about 2,000 a day, a drop of 70 percent. According to Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association president Mufi Hannemann, only half the hotel rooms available in Maui are occupied. Discounted flights are being offered to Hawaii, while some resorts have begun offering a fifth night free or even cutting room rates by 20 percent.
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