On October 2nd and 3rd, MHLA joined industry leaders at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. While anticipated statistics from the airlines, cruise lines and international spending numbers were presented in HTA’s marketing presentations, a shift of focus on Maui’s wildfire recovery was presented. Furthermore, HTA presented the contracted Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Kilohana Funding Opportunities for Hawaii. Maui specific funding applications are open through November 13th using the online portal link ʻUmeke or the in person help center at Maui Mall in Kahului.
As noted in our published briefing MHLA’s Maui Wildfire Response & Recovery, since August 8th, all efforts of the Maui visitor industry were forced into survival action, strategic executions and daily communication to and between all communities and authorities alike. Once federal agencies were able to hold up support on the island, our efforts shifted from immediate evacuations and survival needs to recovery needs including economic stability. As the tourism industry is the number one source of income and provisions for Maui, we at MHLA took action in best interest of the industry and county and were honored with recognition for those efforts from James Tokioka, Director of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, during his speech at the HTA Conference and interview with Civil Beat.
A unique addition to this year’s conference was the Maui Panelist roundtable that included members of our association, the visitor industry and even one of our board members, Mike White. Mike White, retired GM of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, made notable that not everyone is against or with the same feelings for reopening West Maui. “It’s important to not get carried away by one voice,” said the HTA Board Member. Another big take-away from this Panel was the words of Riley Coon, co-owner of the Native Hawaiian family-owned charter company, Trilogy Excursions. “Don’t discount Maui,” he said over the lurking desperation of Maui needing income. “Don’t cheapen it. Maui worked hard to be a beautiful state, value added place in the world and if we attract the budget travelers now, the ripple effect will hurt everyone in the industry.”
It was soon after the HTA Conference that the phased re-opening was announced for Maui’s West Side sections beyond Lahaina. With the chaos in navigating bookings, flights, retail, staffing and displaced, many reached out to us asking occupancy expectations, thoughts on the sentiment and pivot of tourism for Maui. Our internal data fueled our media responses that week and briefings on such can be found in our published piece Tourism Sentiment in Re-opening of West Maui. With the recent announcement by the County of West Maui fully re-opening on November 1st, we hope to see the DBEDT and HVCB data of visitor statistics and spending regain health for the Maui economy as it affects all the state's economy.