This has led to a bit of chaos when it comes to whether or not you need to travel to Maui for a holiday or vacation.
So, should you continue with your plans and go to Maui?
The best answer is that it depends on where you are going.
According to the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, there is a great deal of chaos swirling around both the short-term and long-term impacts of the fires.
“There’s still too much uncertainty to accurately assess the condition of the affected areas, let alone the state of the visitor industry or the status of specific hotel properties and attractions,” said Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO of HLTA.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 16, Maui County officials provided updates on how the fires are doing:
- The Upcountry/Kula fire, which was first reported on Tuesday, Aug. 8, is 75% contained. Roughly 678 acres were impacted by the fire, and there are hot spots in gulches, forests and other difficult-to-reach locates; this includes land divisions and fences that make it difficult to establish complete control.
- The Lāhaina fire, which was first reported on Tuesday, Aug. 8, is 85% contained. There have been an estimated 2,170 acres impacted by this fire, and multiple crews are assigned to monitor and address hot spots and flare-ups.
- The Pūlehu/Kīhei fire, which was first reported on Tuesday, Aug. 8, is 100% contained as of Saturday, Aug. 12. The Maui Fire Department does have personnel assigned to this area to ensure there are no flareups. It’s unclear how many acres were impacted.
- The Puʻukoliʻi / Kāʻanapali fire, which was first reported on Friday, Aug. 11, was fully extinguished by Saturday, Aug. 12. There was one acre impacted by this fire.
Maui Officials said that the National Guard is maintaining two military helicopters to address immediate fire-related needs.
If you are considering whether or not to go to Maui for your vacation, remember that as the fires continue to burn in some locations, full telecommunication services still have not been restored. So uploading photos, making calls, sending emails, or otherwise using the internet could tax an already overburdened system locals are relying on.
Then there are the displaced individuals and families that need accommodation. As of Tuesday, Governor Josh Green, M.D. announced collaborations with hotels and Airbnb to provide shelter. This will reduce the number of recreationally focused rooms available to visitors.
“Hoteliers tell us they’re overwhelmed at the moment, largely because of the human toll of the disaster,” explained Hannemann. “Many workers and their families are suffering, directly or indirectly.”
Finally, there are pleas from locals.
Some parts of Maui are still open, although they are laden with evacuees. One resident put out a plea on Instagram in which he said that the other parts of Maui are still open and in need of tourists to come since this is how they make their livelihood.
Another Maui resident, Sophia Long, said, “The same waters that our people just died in three days ago are the same waters the very next day these visitors – tourists – were swimming in.”
So, even amongst residents, there is no consensus on what do to.
The governor also addressed the fact that those who go into Lahaina risk trampling on the ashes of those who were lost to this fire.
So, the answer to whether you should travel to Maui is not as straightforward as we’d like it to be. Consider these questions as you determine whether you are going to cancel your plans or keep them:
- When you consider your already-booked plans, think about where you will be going and what impact your presence will make on the locals who continue to suffer.
- Will you be in the way?
- Will you be taking valuable and sometimes limited resources away from the locals that are impacted?
- Does your planned trip have the potential to offend the locals? (i.e. taking a boat tour of Lahaina to gawk at the damage, swimming in the water where locals died trying to flee the fires, etc.)
- Does your planned trip include volunteering to help with recovery and will your help be welcomed or will your help simply be a part of the cacophony that is already there?
- Will your trip help with Maui’s economic recovery? Will a donation — i.e. the cost of your holiday — be a better way to help with that recovery?
Be cognizant of the situation that is occurring in Maui and determine how your holiday will impact what locals are experiencing.