Hawaiis $2.4 bn industry is struggling in the wake of the Kilauea Volcano eruptions, with bookings for May through July down 50%
David Collier, who has been guiding trips on the island for a decade, clutched the wheel of a 13 -person van last week on the road up to Mauna Kea observatory. Up until Kilauea began erupting this month, his full-time chore was taking visitors on three separate volcano-related tours. Now, with Hawaii Volcanoes national park shut and the district of Puna inundated with lava, two of those three tours are cancelled until farther notice.
” As of this morning, the road where I’ve been conducting tours for a decade is no longer there ,” he said.” Things are changing .”
Hawaii island’s $ 2.4 bn tourism industry is struggling in the wake of the Kilauea volcano eruptions, with bookings for May through July down 50%, according to the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau. Businesses on the island are doing their best to convince tourists that it’s still safe to visit.
If tourism falters much longer, Collier reasoned, there’s still plenty of work in the astronomy industry located on this 13,000 -foot-high dormant volcano. Mauna Kea- the largest peak in the world when measured from its base on the seabed- is a mecca for astronomers, as well as tourists. But his feelings about the volcano are mixed: it is eruptions like Kilauea’s that created the island in the first place.
” Pele has awoken and is wreaking her destruction upon us, but I never forget that without her I would not have this beautiful place to call home ,” he said.” We all understand the balance of these forces here on Hawaii island .”
Doug Arnott, who owns the tour company Collier works for, Arnott’s Lodge& Hiking, said he’s far more concerned with the potential economic catastrophe than he is about Kilauea, which is located about 30 miles away from his hometown of Hilo. The decision by major cruise lines to cancel their regular stops in the port of Hilo have been especially frustrating, he said.
” What’s happening is only affecting a very small slice of the island ,” he said. In the last couple weeks, he said, five regular cruise ship stops have been cancelled. When those visitors don’t come, he has to cancel his tours.
Until the eruption, tourism on Hawaii was growing. In 2017, the 1.7 million people visited” The Big Island” and spent 14% more than the year before, according to Visitors Bureau statistics.