Photo: Aspects and Angles/Shutterstock

Maui Is Encouraging Travelers to Visit This Fall. Here's How to Do It Responsibly.

by Laurie Jo Miller Farr Sep 12, 2023

In a shift from the initial emergency response in the aftermath of the disastrous wildfires, visitors that “practice patience, compassion, and aloha” will be welcomed to Hawaii beginning in October 2023, chief brand officer of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Kalani Ka‘anā‘anā tells Matador Network.

“Our hearts are with the people of Maui who suffered devastating losses of family members, homes, business, and livelihoods in these fires,” Ka‘anā‘anā says. “Accordingly, our focus now is to do all we can to help in the recovery by rebuilding travel demand for Maui by making it absolutely clear that respectful, compassionate, responsible travel to the island is welcomed and encouraged at this time.”

In an interview, Ka‘anā‘anā explained the ways that tourists can help the island recover through supporting the hospitality industry, as well as volunteering with qualified community organizations.

“By visiting Maui, travelers are expressing their care and aloha to residents who depend on tourism for their livelihoods,” Ka‘anā‘anā says.

Matador: What does the right kind of tourism look like? How do local businesses and staff benefit?

Kalani Ka‘anā‘anā: After listening to the Maui community and visitor industry, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority is supporting residents who work in the hospitality industry and business owners who count on visitor spending by ensuring that visitors return to Maui. We are doing so by making the invitation clear in our visitor education messaging and Mālama Maui marketing efforts that we are asking for respectful, compassionate, responsible travel to the island at this time. Visitation is welcome and encouraged to the many open areas of Maui, now more than ever.

While vacation travel to West Maui (including Lahaina, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali, and Kapalua) is currently strongly discouraged through October 8 (adjusted from the original date of October 17) in alignment with Governor Josh Green’s emergency proclamation, respectful travel to all other parts of Maui, including Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia, Makawao and Hāna, and other Hawaiian Islands is encouraged to keep residents employed and our economy alive.

What is open and what is not open?

map of maui with closed areas

Photo: Hawai’i Tourism Authority

With the exception of Lahaina and parts of West Maui, the rest of the island of Maui is open including activities, attractions, retail shops and restaurants and food trucks. Visitors can go to our website for more information.

What should travelers do when they visit, as well as not to do?

We ask that visitors practice patience, compassion and aloha when coming to Maui. All vacation travel to West Maui (including Lahaina, Nāpili, Kā‘anapali, and Kapalua) is currently strongly discouraged for the duration of Governor Green’s seventh emergency proclamation. Many hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations as they are housing their employees and families, evacuees, and first responders.

Other areas on Maui (including Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pā‘ia, Makawao and Hāna) and the islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, and Hawai‘i Island remain open. We urge visitors to be especially mindful and respectful in our island home as our community continues through this tragedy.

What other ways can travelers provide assistance?

The best way to support Maui in its recovery is for travelers to continue with their Maui vacation this fall and don’t cancel those trips. While it may seem counterintuitive, Maui’s economy is dependent on a robust visitor industry and there is still plenty to see and do while here that is away from Lahaina. While you’re on vacation here, buy local, eat at local restaurants, and enjoy the many great activities and attractions located across Maui.

Another way people can help is to support the Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Kāko‘o Maui Fund, the American Red Cross, or any other qualified organization that is providing help on the ground here on Maui.

Additionally, those who want to volunteer and give back to the community can also touch base with one of the many organizations supporting the recovery efforts.

For the latest information, visit the regularly updated site of the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency.

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