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Plan to Reopen Maui Tourism Receives Backlash

You are currently viewing Plan to Reopen Maui Tourism Receives Backlash
Kaanapali Beach is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Maui.
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Last week, Hawaii Governor, Josh Green, announced that West Maui will be open for tourism again, resuming on October 8th. With this plan to resume the island’s tourism, Kaanapali Beach will be set to reopen as well. This beach is home to just about 50% of the island’s lodging accommodations. With this announcement, many Maui residents are left unsure of where they will be living on the island when tourism resumes. In recovery from the devasting Maui fires, many residents who lost their homes in the fires are temporarily living in the hotels of Kaanapali Beach.

Those displaced by the fires are quite upset over the governor’s plan to reopen the west side of the island to tourism.

Ever since the horrific fires that destroyed countless homes in early August, most of the displaced residents have been given refuge in the hotels surrounding Kaanapali. With the reopening of tourism in this area the already displaced folks feel as though they are being displaced once again. One such resident is Courtney Lazo. She and thousands of others have found some sense of comfort and relief in having a roof over their head after losing their homes, but now that is likely being taken away from them to make room for tourists to stay in the hotels once again.

In a statement released by Governor Green, he stated that they plan to still house those currently staying throughout the hotels but will concentrate them all together in 2-3 hotels. They then will have the rest of the hotels open for regular vacation stays. Many are still upset by this, including Lazo. She acknowledged how difficult this still is for many. Lots of those staying in the hotel after losing their homes have families. They have already suffered greatly, having to move to one hotel and now are forced to move to another.

The state is pushing strongly to reopen West Maui for tourism because there are now approximately 3,000 union workers whose jobs are at stake.

Currently, other parts of Maui are open for tourism. However, Kaanapali Beach is one of the biggest draws for the island, so with that still closed, many are not coming to the island. The governor and many others are concerned now for the island’s economy, since tourism is the biggest contributor to the economy. According to a local travel agent, 80% of people staying in Maui stay in West Maui.

At this point, it is a battle between the government and the residents. If the reopening goes through as planned, there then may be a battle between the residents and tourists.

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