A new plan for Maui's recovery

Christine Hitt

More than a month since the Lahaina wildfires, Hawaii government officials and the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) are hoping to rebuild travel demand to the island of Maui. 

Since the disaster, visitor arrivals to the island have dropped from around 7,000 per day to about 2,000 to 3,000 per day. The economic impact is immense, and it could take years for Maui’s visitor numbers to return to where they were, according to the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii. 

To help with this, the Hawaii Tourism Authority board of directors recently approved $2.6 million in funding for the Maui Marketing Recovery Plan.

“HTA board members and staff had the opportunity to visit Maui over the past week to meet with residents and business owners and listen to them about the challenges they now face with visitor arrivals decreasing significantly since Aug. 8,” said Blaine Miyasato, HTA board chair, in a press release. 

“It was clear that HTA needed to immediately bolster its existing efforts to ensure Hawaii remains a top vacation destination for travelers in the months and years ahead,” Miyasato said. “The board voted unanimously to approve funds for this critical plan to deliver a clear message: Respectful, compassionate, responsible travel to the accessible areas of Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands is welcomed and encouraged, now more than ever.”

Though the HTA’s hope is to bring back visitors, the plan appears to be in line with its other sustainable tourism initiatives that focus on caring for the land and attracting the thoughtful traveler. It doesn’t want to bring everyone and anyone, but rather responsible travelers who are willing to seek out and support local businesses, such as the shops, eateries and services.

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