TORONTO — All non-essential travel to West Maui is strongly discouraged through the month of August in the wake of the wildfires, and hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations, according to the latest update from the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).
In a new post on its site, the HTA says the travel industry is focused on supporting residents who lost loved ones, homes, their belongings, and businesses.
The HTA says: “Other areas of Maui (including Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Wailea, Makena, and Hana), and the other Hawaiian Islands, like Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, and Hawaii Island remain open. We urge visitors to be especially mindful and respectful in our island home as our community continues through this tragedy.”
The HTA says it is in continuous communication with state and county emergency management officials, as well as its Global Marketing Team and visitor industry partners, to monitor the situation and provide updates. The HTA will be providing communication updates to travel partners to ensure the public is kept informed about travel to Maui.
Here are the latest key takeaways from the HTA’s update …
- Hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations and are housing their employees and families, evacuees, and first responders working on disaster recovery – well over 1,000 people so far with more to come. More information on efforts to house evacuees can be found at mauistrong.hawaii.gov.
- Vacation rental owners, as well as anyone with available space, are encouraged to make these accommodations available to temporarily house displaced West Maui residents. The state has set up a referral program to make those connections possible to support West Maui residents in need of housing. More info is at the Fire Relief Housing Program website. A call centre is also available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 808-587-0469, or email hawaiifirereliefhousing@
- Airbnb.org has also announced an initiative to provide free, temporary stays to 1,000 people through its network of hosts. Details of that program will be announced in the coming days.
- The area most affected by the wildfires is off limits to the general public, and the HTA is urging visitors to refrain from traveling to West Maui at this time. For updates, visit the County of Maui website: www.mauicounty.gov.
- The Assistance Center at the Keʻehi Lagoon Memorial Hall in Honolulu has closed. Operated in partnership with HTA and the American Red Cross to support those evacuated from Maui due to the wildfires, the Assistance Center has served nearly 300 visitors and residents since the facility opened at the Hawai‘i Convention Center on August 9. The facility was recently relocated to Ke‘ehi Lagoon. Shuttles offering free transportation from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to the Keʻehi Lagoon Memorial Hall are running throughout the day and can be found outside of baggage claim 9 and baggage claim 20 at the airport.
- Anyone wanting to make donations to help communities and families recover on Maui can do so through the Maui Strong Fund established by the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. The link can be accessed here. Due to capacity limitations in the system, donors are asked to consider making financial rather than physical donations.