weather icon Clear

Kilauea’s danger creates challenges for Hawaii tourism

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — With Kilauea volcano threatening to erupt, Hawaii tourism officials say it has been nearly impossible to predict revenue generated from visitors.

Numbers released last week by the Hawaii Tourism Authority show the state saw a 13.4 percent increase in visitor spending in April, West Hawaii Today reported . But the volcano has forced the closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Island’s biggest tourist attraction, and tourists have grown leery of lava and apprehensive about air quality.

Despite that, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization is not yet projecting a significant economic downturn statewide.

The organization released its county economic forecast Friday, and Carl Bonham, executive director of the organization, said “the Big Island will weather this.” That is unless it suffers the possible 50 percent loss of business Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, is projecting.

Birch’s figure is based on a survey he conducted of several lodging and activity companies that said bookings on Hawaii Island from June through the end of August appeared as though they could drop by half.

Several tour companies have had to change their itineraries and some that are particularly reliant on Kilauea have already been forced into layoffs, Birch said.

But because of how massive expected growth was, the impact from Kilauea may be minimal, officials said.

Some early numbers show U.S. market arrivals to Hawaii didn’t drop in May, but kept pace with the 25 percent year-over-year growth also witnessed in April, West Hawaii Today reported.

However, Birch said that doesn’t account for missed ports from companies like Norwegian Cruise Line, which announced Saturday it planned to remove indefinitely both Hilo and Kailua-Kona from the itinerary for its ship, Pride of America, “until the situation is back to normal.”

Birch has estimated that each missed port in Kailua-Kona costs West Hawaii around $175,000 in visitor spending.

Bonham said air travel to Hawaii in general, though, is holding up well.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Drug company attorneys seek to disqualify judge in opioid suit

CLEVELAND — Attorneys for eight drug distributors, pharmacies and retailers facing trial next month for their roles in the opioid crisis want to disqualify the federal judge overseeing their cases, saying he has shown bias in his effort to obtain a multibillion-dollar global settlement.

Osama bin Laden’s son killed in US operation, White House says

A statement issued in President Donald Trump’s name gave no further details, such as when Hamza bin Laden was killed or how the United States had confirmed his death.

Still reeling from Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas faces tropical storm

FREEPORT, Bahamas — Officials temporarily suspended aid efforts and closed a couple of small airports in the Bahamas Saturday as Tropical Storm Humberto dumped rain on parts of the archipelago’s northwest region that were already hammered by Hurricane Dorian two weeks ago.

Actress Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in prison

“Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday to 14 days in prison for paying $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT scores in the college admissions scandal that ensnared dozens of wealthy and well-connected parents.