PLEASE SUPPORT OUR LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES: So sad we are seeing our favorite local restaurants and food trucks on the verge of closing. We hope they can make it through. We need to support small local businesses. The large corporate chain stores with deep pockets will likely survive, although they are likely to lay off a lot of workers in the meantime. 

Tourism is tanking:  After the Maui Wildfires in early August, the number of tourists has dramatically and understandably fallen to near Covid levels. Several hotels on the west side were closed and some are being used for shelters. Power and services are still not available in many parts of West Maui including Lahaina and its surroundings, and it could be months before services are fully restored to these areas. Huge fields of unused rental cars are parked up at the airport, reminiscent of Covid shutdowns. And many parts of the island not directly affected by the fires are experiencing a post-fire backlash in the form of a severe economic slowdown.  Tourists are being told that West Maui is closed, but other areas remain open. 

Some tourists have acted disrespectfully: A few ignorant tourists going into fire zones and taking selfies or doing videos have angered local residents, and this has stirred up some anti-tourism sentiment. But unfortunately, the bad action of the few do not reflect the intentions and actions of the majority. Many tourists canceled trips to Maui in the coming months, in order to give the island room to grieve and recover, But unfortunately, it is also having a negative effect on the remaining workers and businesses. Many of the families affected by the Lahaina and Kula fires are also dependent on people who are still working in other parts of the island. Tourists need to be informed to stay far away from affected areas, and to restrict their travel and activities to the other parts of the island. 

Many workers and small businesses on Maui are greatly affected by the lack of tourists. Many of our local friends are being told that work will be scarce for the next several months at least. The few tourists still coming to Maui are helping to keep the local economy from totally tanking. if we lose our small businesses and locally owned restaurants and stores and services, then we will suffer a second wave of misery, that could eventually force many local residents to leave the island. And once they leave it is likely they will never return. Please do not curse the main source of income that so many depend on. Especially at this vulnerable time. 

Tourist Shaming by a few vocal individuals is hurting our island economy at the worst possible time. And many local businesses, have received cancellations until the rest of the year, and expect a downturn similar to Covid shutdowns. Many workers are expected to go on unemployment, and many small local businesses may finally fail. And this means that more local families will not be able to pay their mortgages. 

Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons