What’s the future of Maui travel in the aftermath of the wildfire?


The cleanup is now beginning on Maui after the worst wildfire in recent U.S. history.

But hundreds of people remain unaccounted for, and even when the searches end it will take years to rebuild Lahaina.

So for the thousands of people who had been planning a trip there in the future, the question is: “now what?”

At this point, many people with reservations are changing their plans.

Travel agent Jerry Katz, of First Discount Travel in Blue Ash, is scrambling to rebook clients who had been planning a Maui trip this fall

He is advising customers to switch to a different Hawaiian island for now.

The good news is that much of Maui, including the popular Kaanapali Beach and Wailea, was not affected directly by the fire.

The bad news is, even if you were planning a trip to one of those spots in the next few months, you’ll still impacted by everything that happened around it.

“I think you are going to miss a lot of the magic of Maui right now,” Katz said, “as people are definitely going to have their minds and hearts in other areas.”

Should you plan a trip… or avoid the island?

There is a lot of debate now whether planning a trip to Maui is supportive… or insensitive.

After all, waiters and hotel workers need tourists to earn a living.

However, many Kaanapali Beach hotels — though undamaged — are being used as temporary housing for workers.

In addition, Hawaii’s governor has issued an “essential travel only order” through the end of August for western parts of Maui.

With airlines and many hotels waiving change fees for Maui, Katz suggests switching upcoming trips to Oahu/Honolulu, the Big Island, or Kauai.

“Kauai is an amazing island, it’s my personal favorite,” he said.

As you change your plans, Katz also suggests sending a few dollars to the Red Cross of Maui, the Maui United Way or Maui Strong fund, to help the people of that great island rebuild.

By next year, Katz says, he’d be comfortable visiting Maui again, especially to show support for local businesses, workers and families.

And that way you don’t waste your money.


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