Eye-popping images of the Kilauea volcano's destruction on
the Big Island have been shown across the world for weeks, and that has had a
negative effect on tourism throughout Hawaii, even though the damage is
confined to a small portion of the Big Island.
Therefore, Hawaii Gov. David Ige and the Hawaii Tourism
Authority have a joint message: Hawaii is safe and open to visitors.
"All of Hawaii is open for business and welcoming
visitors with the hospitality, aloha, warmth and picturesque settings visitors
seek in our islands," Ige said. "This includes Hilo, Pahoa and the
Kona and Kohala coasts on the island of Hawaii."
The most affected area is in the eastern tip of the island,
the Lower Puna region including the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens
subdivisions and visitors should stay clear of the area. Anyone with plans to
stay there should make alternative arrangements, and those with plans to visit
the Puna region in general should check accessibility ahead of time.
Flights to and from the island of Hawaii have been operating
normally, but airlines are setting up programs for concerned travelers.
Hawaiian Airlines is currently allowing anyone booked on a flight to Hilo or
Kona through May 31 to change their flight at no cost. United, American and
Alaska are all currently offering waivers on change fees for all flights to
Kona or Hilo through May 25.
Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will be closed until
further notice. The Park's Kahuku Unit, which includes a 9-mile scenic drive
and a handful of hiking options, is open during its normal hours, Friday
through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Businesses and accommodations in Volcano Village just
outside of the park entrance are largely operating as normal, but conditions
are in flux. Accommodations and activities in Hilo are unaffected by the
The area restricted from visitors encompasses Highway 132
from Leilani Estates to Kapoho, Highway 137 from Kapoho to Kalapana, and
Highway 130 from Pahoa to Pohoiki, including Black Sands Beach subdivision. As
of May 12, all vacation rentals in those areas have been suspended.