Hawaii to Officially Welcome Visitors Back to West Maui Next Month — What to Know

Gov. Josh Green issued a proclamation allowing travelers to enter the region impacted most by the devastating wildfires on Oct. 8.

<p>Zeng Hui/Getty Images</p>

Zeng Hui/Getty Images

West Maui will officially welcome visitors again next month following the devastating wildfires that swept the paradise destination in August.

On Friday, Gov. Josh Green signed an emergency proclamation that will lift the travel ban to the area on Oct. 8. The new proclamation reverses previous guidance from Green and Hawaiian Tourism Authority that discouraged travel to West Maui – including Lāhainā, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali, and Kapalua – altogether.

However, Lāhainā, the wildfires’ impact zone, remains closed to visitors.

To date, at least 115 people have died and 66 remain unaccounted for from the fire that began Aug. 8.

Since Aug. 9, Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism estimates the island has lost more than $350 million.

“The passenger count to Kahului Airport decreased by more than 70 percent after the tragedy from 7,000 a day to 2,000 a day,” a Sept. 6 statement released from the department read. “The loss from business closures and visitor expenditures is estimated to be $11 million a day on Maui since Aug. 9, 2023.”

Green’s proclamation comes as a relief for small business owners who depend on tourism and have floundered in recent weeks without concrete guidance from local government officials.

“For us, [the messaging] meant dozens of cancellations as far out as Feb. 2024,” Shawn Ravazzano, owner of Love and Water Photography, toldTravel + Leisure, adding that many local businesses are still recovering from COVID shutdowns. “Clients were confused about the message of when to return.”

In an effort to stir economic growth, local resorts including Four Seasons Maui and Hotel Wailea, have incentivized tourism, offering donations to local foundations for every booking.

Ravazzano is hopeful the clear messaging and resort incentives encourage visitors to return.

“Respectful, responsible and sustainable visitation to Maui — and all islands — is, and always should be, the standard,” she said.

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