Volcanic smog, or “vog,” from Kilauea will hurt Big Island tourism if the island gets a reputation for polluted skies, said Rex Johnson, CEO of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority.
Johnson told Hawaii lawmakers that more scientific statistics are needed to base findings on vog’s effects.
“Long term, if the Big Island gets a reputation for air pollution, it will hurt us," he said.
The Hawaii House of Representatives has assigned a committee to study vog’s effects on Hawaii’s economy, including property assessments, real estate sales and tourism. The House met with the committee recently.
“Unfortunately, we did not get as much information at this meeting as we did in the first two," said Rep. Robert Herkes, the committee’s chair. “It's all anecdotal right now. We’re still waiting for a natural-disaster declaration from the president.”
Kilauea has been erupting since 1983, but vog emission levels have risen since a new vent formed in March. On the positive side, the latest eruption is drawing about 5,000 visitors a day to the viewing site.