Travelers contemplating the well-liked holiday spot have an urgent warning from Maui boat captain and diving trip operator Javier Cantellops: Get to Hawaii’s second-largest island as soon as possible.
Local business owners claim that warnings to avoid Maui after flames devastated the town of Lahaina and killed at least 114 people were inappropriately issued by some government officials, airlines, and celebrities.
Small businesses on Maui are suffering because so many visitors are postponing their scheduled travel. The number one method to help Maui amid the crisis is to come back. We need returning guests and their cheerful smiles, Cantellops told CBS MoneyWatch. “The west side is devastated, and Lahaina is closed off, but Maui is still open,” she said.
Cantellops calculates that the money from canceled reservations cost his two companies, Maui Dreams Dive Company and Island Style Diving, $35,000 to $38,000 in just the previous week.
Imagine multiplying it by 100; “that’s real income, those are real wages, and I’m just one firm,” he continued. They are both located in Kihei, which is on Maui’s southwest shore approximately 20 miles from Lahaina, and I am only one firm.
It would be irresponsible to take away that source of income because of some tragedy that occurred elsewhere. We are very dependent on tourism and repeat visitors. According to business owners who spoke to CBS MoneyWatch, the loss of money was immediate for restaurants, farms, and activity operators.
Without it, individuals who live and work on portions of the island that were spared by the flames would be impeded in their attempts to help others who lost everything. Cantellops stated, “We cannot support the west side if we are now in danger of losing our jobs and staff.
We are volunteering and doing our best to help everyone as much as we can in this tight-knit community. Typically, his businesses provide four to five excursions every day, including boat cruises and diver certification courses that cost $250–500 per person.
Source: cbs news