World Tourism Network member Paul Muir, head of the New York International Travel Show wanted to help Small and Medium Sized Businesses and Hotels in Maui in their effort to relaunch tourism. This was to help Maui after the Lahaina fires that killed almost a hundred people and displaced thousands.
Resorts in the West Maui Kaanapali converted luxury resort hotels into shelters for local residents who lost everything.
Should tourists visit West Maui?
As reported on eTurboNews, last week Governor Ige announced at a press conference that all of Maui will be welcoming visitors back starting October 8.
When asked by eTurboNews what would happen to residents who were misplaced and took shelter in many of the Kaanapali- Kapalua West Maui hotels, the Governor said, the contract and the need to provide this shelter would end on September 30. It would give the resorts a week to get ready for urgently needed visitors.
What Governor Green did not explain, was that the outspoken Lahaina, Maui grassroots organization “Lahaina Strong“, was fighting for misplaced residents to not be removed from Kaanapali resorts yet. Resorts graciously took local residents in as a first effort after the fires, but want to re-open hotels for out-of-state visitors again.
Maui CVB is not accepting free Exhibitor Space at the NY Travel Show for Independent Maui Hotels and Resorts
It may however explain why Leanne Pletcher, Director of Public Relations & Marketing for the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau told World Tourism Network on Friday smaller businesses in Maui would not want to participate in this free opportunity promoting their hotels after the fire. She must have known about the effort to delay having visitors return to West Maui and did not want this Government agency to be caught in a politically sensitive situation.
It may also explain why the Hawaii
Leanne told WTN: “Thank you so much for sharing the information on the New York International Travel Show. While we are grateful for the opportunity to partner, Maui Visitors Bureau will need to pass on at this time. Please extend our appreciation to the World Tourism Events team for their gracious invitation.”
It may also explain why the Hawaii and also the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Organization, and its Maui affiliate did not return calls by WTN to learn about this offer. Most of their members are large hotels and resorts.
Today Lahaina Strong is asking Hawaii residents to sign a petition for Hawaii Governor Green and Maui Mayor Richard Bissen to delay the reopening of tourism. They are asking:
Tell Gov. Green: Give Lāhainā more time
“We need to be lead at the table and making the decision of how we’re going to build Lahaina back because we don’t want to lose our way – the Lahaina way,” Keahi, a leader of this group voiced his concern to a local reporter. Keahi urged officials to make sure residents have a place to live before they talk about rebuilding businesses.
What Governor Green did not explain
What Governor Green also did not explain at his press conference last week was, that this group was not part of a discussion on the reopening for tourist date of October 8. This decision was made at a private meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, which exclusively represented select business interests.
Marriott and Big Hotels’ interest
Ritz Carlton is part of the Marriott Group, the largest hospitality group in the world, and includes many of the hotels in West Maui, such as Sheraton, and Westin for example. The group has been losing substantial revenue after the fires.
It appears smaller privately owned hotels and local advocacy groups such as Lahaina Strong were not consulted in the decision to reopen all of Maui for tourists in less than 3 weeks.
On the other hand, Maui’s economy and Hawaii’s economy rely on tourism Dollars, and tourism has been the major part of economic recovery for the Aloha State after the COVID lockdowns.
Lahaina’s Strong Interest is different
Lahaina Strong is asking to sign this petition to the Governor and to the Mayor:
We, the undersigned, demand that the reopening of West Maui to tourism on October 8th be delayed. The decision to reopen must not proceed without proper consultation with the working-class families of Lāhainā, who have been displaced by the fires.
It is alarming that a private meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, which exclusively represented select business interests, has been cited as the basis for this decision. The voices of our displaced residents, who have endured immeasurable hardships, have not been adequately heard.
These working-class families, who are the backbone of our community, many of whom also work in the tourism industry, are struggling to find shelter, provide for their children’s education, and cope with emotional trauma.
We firmly believe that before any reopening takes place, it is imperative to consult with and prioritize the needs of these working-class Lāhainā residents. Delaying the reopening will allow for a more comprehensive and inclusive approach that takes into account the welfare and well-being of all West Maui residents and visitors alike.
The goal for Lahaina Strong is to get 6400 signatures. After the first day already 3,231 Signatures were collected. The petition is placed on the action network.