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Hawaii Mayor Reveals When West Maui Will Reopen to Tourism After Deadly Disaster

Most of West Maui in Hawaii could be reopened to tourists as early as next month following August’s deadly wildfires, according to its mayor.

Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said Monday that all of West Maui, except for burned-out sections of historic Lahaina, will reopen to tourism on Nov. 1. The mayor said the decision to reopen came after talking about it with his Lahaina advisory team, the Red Cross and other partners.

Hawaii suffered the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century when a fire raged through Lahaina, killing at least 99 people and destroying more than 2,000 buildings on Aug. 8.

West Maui is a major contributor to Hawaii’s tourism with about 11,000 hotel rooms, or about half of Maui’s total. Travelers left those hotels in a mass evacuation to avoid the flames.

Houses in Lahaina
Aerial images east of Lahaina, Maui, where homes and businesses lay in ruin after a devastating wildfire swept through town. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green declared last month that West Maui would officially begin to reopen to tourism on Oct. 8 in an effort to bring back badly needed jobs and help the economy recover. 

Mayor Bissen modified the governor’s declaration that will reopen the county in phases, allowing a small section on the northern edge of West Maui to open first with the rest to follow later.

A burned home in Lahaina
Blocks of homes have been turned to ash and rubble from Maui’s wildfire.

Returning tourists to the island has been a point of contention among locals, as some favored the opportunity for the local economy while others said the disaster-stricken region was simply not ready.

Some residents even drafted a petition opposing the return of tourists.

Bissen appeared to acknowledge this dissent during a news conference in Lahaina, saying Monday that, while “this isn’t for everyone,” workers are ready to return to their jobs. 

Those who are not prepared to go back to work on Nov. 1 should “continue to seek the help and attention that they need,” Bissen said during the event.

The mayor also reassured residents who have been staying in West Maui hotels and other short-term accommodations after losing their homes in the fire.

A hotel in Maui
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, is viewed Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. The resort will re-open Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, as the first phase for tourism returning to West Maui. (AP Photo/Mengshin Lin)

“We’re assured by the Red Cross that their housing will not be in jeopardy,” Bissen said.

Some properties have already reopened on their own.

Source : FoxNews