Maui businesses call for more visitors after wildfires

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Local business proprietors are expressing their discontent with appeals from certain government officials, airlines, and celebrities advising tourists to avoid visiting Maui following the devastating wildfires that ravaged the town of Lahaina, resulting in a tragic loss of at least 114 lives. This response is seen as ill-timed and inappropriate by those who rely on tourism to sustain their businesses. As a consequence of the decline in tourist arrivals, small enterprises on Maui are grappling with financial difficulties.

An area entrepreneur conveyed during an interview with CBS that he calculates his two enterprises have incurred combined losses of around $35,000 to $38,000 in the last week due to canceled reservations. Both his businesses are situated in Kihei, positioned about 20 miles away from Lahaina on Maui’s southwestern coast. Typically, these businesses offer four to five excursions daily, encompassing activities such as boat trips and scuba certification classes, priced between $250 and $500 per person. At present, their operations have come to a complete halt.

He underscored, “This isn’t just theoretical revenue; these are tangible earnings. And I’m only representing a single company. Imagine multiplying this impact by a hundred. Our dependency on tourism and the return of visitors is immense. Removing this revenue stream due to an unrelated tragedy is irresponsible.”

The immediate repercussions of reduced revenue are evident across various sectors, affecting restaurants, farmers, and recreational activity providers. The absence of this income puts a strain on individuals who reside and work in areas unaffected by the fires, hampering their capacity to assist those who have suffered substantial losses.

Local businesses that provide fresh produce to nearby restaurants are similarly apprehensive about their ability to maintain operations, particularly following the setbacks dealt by the COVID-19 pandemic that affected the entire industry.