Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

Maui officials are hopeful that travelers waiting for checked luggage at the Kahului Airport baggage claim will soon pass the time while paying close attention to a new ocean safety video. 

The five-minute message is expected to be up and running in early January and will be looped on several HD TV screens throughout baggage claim, featuring a range of Maui ocean- and beach-related information along with safety tips for visitors.

“We’re trying to educate visitors on the dangers of the ocean,” said Terryl Vencl, the executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau. “We have people who drown, [but] in addition to deaths there are a lot of injuries that people face in the ocean.” 

Following a recent request from Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Vencl formed a safety video committee, consisting of key figures in Maui’s fire, police and lifeguard departments along with representatives from the Maui County aquatics and film divisions. The group is working to finish production on the new video at the beginning of next year and hopes to have it showing at the baggage claim area in the Kahului Airport shortly thereafter.

“We feel like we have a captive audience, at least for a few minutes, in baggage claim,” Vencl added. “And what we want to do is give them something that might leave an imprint in their mind, so maybe that’s ‘don’t turn your back on the ocean’ or maybe it’s ‘be aware of riptide currents’ — something that will leave a lasting impact.”

Along with the recurring broadcast at the Kahului Airport, Vencl said the video will run on Paradise TV, which is Maui’s visitor channel broadcast in all of the destination’s hotel rooms.

“That channel talks a lot about things to do, where to go,” Vencl explained. “And we’re hopeful that people will pay a bit more attention to this safety information while watching for those other messages.”

Drowning is the leading cause of visitor fatalities in Hawaii, and according to a Dec. 21 Honolulu Star Advertiser report, more than a dozen people drown on Maui each year on average.

Eight people have drowned this year at Kaanapali Beach, which fronts a number of major vacation resorts on Maui’s west coast and features a rip current well known to residents, according to a Dec. 21 Maui News report.

Travelers flying in to Kauai’s Lihue Airport will also see an ocean and island safety video looped on TVs in the baggage claim area. Kauai officials debuted that video in the spring of 2013.

Vencl noted that agents can access a comprehensive Hawaii safety brochure, not only describing a range of ocean-related information but also details about hiking around streams and waterfalls and tips regarding valuables or even driving, in a printable brochure that can be downloaded at www.travelsmarthawaii.com.

“Many travelers aren’t thinking about safety,” Vencl said. “Nobody thinks they’re going to get sick or anything else on a vacation. They’re thinking about what to do and how to do it, [but] if we can encourage travel agents to print out the information and put it into the client’s package, then we’d know travelers got it.”

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