Baffling Maui Travel Advice Just Released By State of Hawaii

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Instead of getting better clarification from the State of Hawaii on Maui travel planning following last week’s devastating wild fires, the latest announcement both changed significantly and left more questions than answers. Visitors are stuck about what to do as is reflected in hundreds of recent comments we’ve received. We will give you our best suggestions based on the current messaging and what we know.

This discussion comes while all of our focus remains on those killed and displaced in the still unfolding devastation of last week. There are no words to adequately express the pain and suffering that hangs over Maui and all of Hawaii.

Prior advice from HTA was to avoid Maui travel entirely

Three days ago the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority said, “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.”

But in this latest directive, that all changed, with only West Maui being mentioned for no travel. It’s hard to know if this is an about-face or lack of information as any travel restrictions for the rest of Maui were no longer mentioned.

“Visitors Urged to Forego Travel Plans to West Maui.”

Hawaii Tourism Authority. 8/12/23.

HTA also said, “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.”

“Visitors with plans to stay in West Maui in the coming weeks and months are urged to consider rescheduling their travel plans for a later time when the overall situation has improved for area residents.”

Hawaii Tourism Authority. 8/12/23.

Beat of Hawaii interprets HTA directive.

Our sense from discussions with multiple sources regarding travel to West Maui is as follows: It would be best to place all travel plans for the remainder of 2023 on hold, at least for now. Although the state referred to “weeks and months,” it will take much longer than envisioned to get West Maui going again. That as we realize the scope of the devastation has barely been revealed, with so much to come. And even after that happens, the infrastructure for visitors may not be restored soon.

West Maui hotels are no longer accepting reservations.

“Hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations,” said Hawaii Tourism.

As hotels return online, they must house employees, families, and others dislocated by the fires and those on Maui, including first responders and others providing the range of critical help needed.

Do not try to reach West Maui hotels and vacation rentals.

The HTA just proffered, “While efforts are underway to restore basic services, like power and communications, visitors are encouraged to refrain from attempting to reach West Maui accommodations for reservation adjustments until the situation improves.”

There is no additional time frame for now, as efforts are focused on finding the bodies of those who perished in the fire first. That process has barely begun some six days after the fires.

Derelict absence of communication regarding the rest of Maui.

The repugnant Hawaii Tourism Authority no longer advises visitors on whether or not to travel to South Maui, East Maui, and other areas of the island. Instead, there is radio silence. It is no wonder that much of the state of Hawaii has long been ready to get rid of the Hawaii Tourism Authority entirely, and we will be surprised if that doesn’t ultimately occur. Those Hawaii residents who rely on employment within the tourism industry could face serious consequences if the state doesn’t get clear soon regarding South Maui’s critical travel industry. Those Hawaii residents and Hawaii visitors both want to know what the future holds.

Travel to the other Islands is not impacted.

Those visitors planning on coming to the Big Island, Kauai, and Oahu are not affected by the conditions on Maui. Having said that, two of your editors are currently on Oahu, and the evacuation of visitors from Maui to Oahu has resulted in very challenging travel conditions and overcrowding. That, however, should subside as those visitors return to the mainland.

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