Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

Hawaii Update: Agent Confidence is Rising

With headlines featuring reports of the recent Kīlauea volcanic activity, some travel agents may feel hesitant to send their clients to Hawaii. But those reports do not account for the bigger picture and, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), Hawaii's governor and the state's top health official, Hawaii is still a safe vacation destination for your clients.

Agents are feeling more and more confident to continue sending their clients there. “Since the most recent active volcano eruptions, I have clients traveling to Maui and Kauai,” says Lauré Poffenberger, owner and travel consultant of Travel Luxury Vacations. Suppliers, too, are resuming travel to Hawaii, with the latest return being from Norwegian Cruise Line. Starting June 12, they’ll be resuming port calls in Hilo and Kona.

Updates Right from the Source

David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, is very actively releasing statements about the status of Hawaii travel. In a press release issued by HTA on May 21, he states, “All of Hawai‘i is open for business and welcoming visitors with the hospitality, aloha, warmth and picturesque settings visitors seek in our islands. This includes Hilo, Pāhoa and the Kona and Kohala coasts on the island of Hawai‘i. The one area that people need to avoid is lower Puna where the eruption is ongoing.”

Elaborating on this statement is John Monahan, the President and CEO of Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. President Monahan states:

“Kilauea’s ongoing eruption has certainly put Hawaii in the spotlight recently and while we continue to be concerned for our friends in the affected area, we’re working closely with our travel partners to assure them and their clients that it is safe to visit the island of Hawaii and all the other Hawaiian Islands. The fact is that the volcanic activity is isolated to the Puna district of East Hawaii Island and occurring in a 10 square mile area, far from the island’s popular hotels and resorts. We encourage travel professionals to connect with us and stay informed on potential areas of concern such as air quality, which remain at safe levels for residents and visitors, but are being closely monitored. Our travel partners are critical in helping spread the word that there is no reason to change your travel plans to Hawaii and we greatly appreciate their support.”

Govener Ige also reassures visitors that “the volcanic activity is having no effect whatsoever on the other islands, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i and Kaua‘i.”

In a more recent HTA press release from May 25, Governor Ige says, “Hawai‘i’s air quality is being closely monitored on a continuing basis by scientists, meteorologists and the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. This team of experts says the air quality in the Hawaiian Islands is safe for residents and visitors, except in the affected areas.”

He also addresses the concerns about laze, plumes of steam that occur when lava mixes with water. “Laze is a natural reaction that occurs whenever lava flows into the ocean as it is doing now and has from time to time over the past 35 years. This is all part of nature’s way of creating new land for life to grow. Laze is limited to the area where the lava meets the ocean and is not a danger to people who keep a safe distance away,” Ige says.

Resources to Share with Your Clients

This quick fact sheet from HTA answers everything you need to know about the volcanic eruption, and can help you stay informed for your clients who might be heading to the lush paradise islands. Get your answers to their questions from this resource or send it directly to them!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and these maps are no exception. This map of all of the Hawaiian Islands shows that the impact of the volcanic eruption is limited to a very small area on Hawaii Island and does not cause any threat to visitors. It is important to note, however, that most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closed until further notice. Use this map to see a more detailed view of Hawaii Island to get an even better perspective of what’s going on. Poffenberger recommends going over the geography of the islands with your clients, so pass these maps along to them so they can see the minimal effect the volcanic eruption is having on the destination because “the area that the volcano occupies compared to the rest of the Big Island is very small,” Poffenberger says.

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