Outdoor World

Hawaii volcano eruption prompts fears of disastrous blow to tourism

Hawaiis $2.4 bn industry is fighting in the wake of the Kilauea Volcano eruptions, with bookings for May through July down 50%

David Collier, who has been guiding trip-ups 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 task was taking visitors on three separate volcano-related tours. Now, with Hawaii Volcanoes national park shut and different districts of Puna inundated with lava, two of those three tours are cancelled until further notice.

” As of this morning, the road where I’ve been conducting tours for a decade is no longer there ,” he told.” Thing are changing .”

Hawaii island’s $ 2.4 bn tourism industry is fighting in the wake of the Kilauea volcano eruptions, with bookings for May through July down 50%, in agreement with 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 falterings 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 most significant 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 bellow home ,” he told.” We all understand the remaining balance of these forces here on Hawaii island .”

Doug Arnott, who owns the tour corporation Collier works for, Arnott’s Lodge& Hiking, said he’s far more concerned with the potential economic tragedy than he is about Kilauea, which is located about 30 miles away from his hometown of Hilo. The decision by major sail lines to cancel their regular stops in the port of Hilo were particularly frustrating, he said.

” What’s happening is simply affecting a very small slice of small island developing ,” he said. In the last couple weeks, he told, five regular cruise ship stops have been cancelled. When those guests 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 Guests Bureau statistics.

Residents watch lava erupting from a Kilauea volcano fissure in Leilani Estates, on Hawaii’s Big Island, on 23 May 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Photograph: Mario Tama/ Getty Images

Now, the future looks uncertain- volcanologists have no ideas when the eruption might terminate. Arnott said the island has to adjust.” We need to find different ways for people to visit ,” he said.

Allen Hartvigsen, the general manager at the popular Hilo Coffee Mill, is one of those trying to adjust. Since the eruption and the drop off in tourism, especially from cruise ships, Hartvigsen has had to cut employee hours by 60%. In the past few days, he’s gone door-to-door trying to drum up business, asking local industries if they’ll carry his coffee.” I’m just strolling into stores the old fashioned lane, doing cold calls and shaking hands like I used to 30 years ago ,” he told. In the meantime, he’s trying not to lay any of his employees off, and hoping that guests return.

” We’re receiving phone calls every hour from households that are cancelling their Hawaii vacations or are considering it ,” said Jason Cohn, the vice-president of Marketings and Marketing for Hawaii Forest& Trail, a tour guide company. He said that so far his corporation is expecting a 30% reduced in revenue.

” It’s a shame because other parts of the island have been absolutely beautiful these past couple of periods, and not to mention safe places to view the incredible activity that’s happening from afar .”

In Pahoa, near the heart of volcanic act, the freeway is often clogged with automobiles. But the bohemian downtown remains dismally quiet, according to Amedeo Markoff, a business owned and board member of the Pahoa Mainstreet Association.

” If this goes on ,” he told,” there is going to be a second disaster: an economic one .”

Markoff said he was unhappy with a statement were presented by Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, last week in which he asked visitors and inhabitants to” stay out of Puna and Pahoa “.

” If what he’s saying is true, and it’s dangerous to be here, then we should evacuate ,” Markoff told.” But we’re still here. There’s a misconception that Pahoa is dangerous right now, but we’re are applied to lava and we know how to deal with it .”

Recently, the air has furthermore become a concern, with the Hilo medical center seeing a moderate increased number of the number of people coming with symptoms related to volcanic smog and haze, which can begin with dry eyes or a scratchy throat.

Rebekah Blakey, 31, of Los Angeles, and her sister arrived on Hawaii on 17 May, the same day that Kilauea sent an ash plume 30,000 feet in the air. They rebooked accommodations in the northern part of small island developing, but told me they did occasionally seem effects from from the volcanic smog.

” Our eyes have been a bit watery ,” she said,” and on certain periods, we didn’t feel great “.

Back on the summit of Mauna Kea, the sunlight is setting on a thick layer of clouds. It’s incredibly quiet; the vastness of space seems to swallow the music. The air is clear, too, all traces of vog moved above the cloud cover.

Collier munches on a pack of astronaut’s ice cream from the visitor’s center while his tour passengers amble around on the Mars-like surface, snapping photos of the view. He tells them:” This is going to be one of the best sunsets of their own lives .”

* Such articles was revised on 28 May 2018 because an earlier version referred to astrologists. This has been corrected to mention astronomers.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ us-news/ 2018/ may/ 27/ hawaii-volcano-eruption-prompts-fears-of-disastrous-blow-to-tourism

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