Is Maui’s Tourism Recovering?

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Podcast > Is Maui’s Tourism Recovering?

If you’ve been considering a trip to Maui recently, you might be surprised by the steep prices you encounter. One would expect that with such high prices, Maui would have a thriving tourism industry, and supply and demand would naturally govern the current pricing. However, from my perspective, something seems amiss. Given the impact of the wildfires on visitor arrivals, one would anticipate a natural adjustment in pricing, possibly resulting in lower rates. However, that’s simply not the reality. If you’ve been checking out Maui prices lately, you’ll likely be taken aback, particularly when it comes to hotels on the West side, close to the Lahaina area affected by the fires. At present, hotels in this region are commanding prices ranging from $600 to $700, and I regrettably lack a clear explanation. Some hoteliers I’ve conversed with claim that this is simply where the current pricing is settling, suggesting that the market has become somewhat unconventional due to certain factors.

Locals Want You to Come to Maui

Contrary to any misconceptions that may have arisen following the destructive Maui wildfires, Hawaii needs to welcome back tourists. This sentiment isn’t limited to tourism officials; it resonates strongly among the local residents as well. The outspoken minority certainly makes themselves heard—quite vociferously. They are seizing this moment to criticize the Hawaii tourism industry relentlessly. Those involved in the tourism sector have been unfairly targeted as scapegoats. Are we to be held responsible for all of this? I don’t believe so; we are part of the solution. The information we exchange here, along with others who are sharing the facts, will contribute to finding resolutions. While this is not a novel situation, the volume of voices has undeniably increased. During the pandemic, we encountered similar negativity regarding over-tourism.

On an emotional level, there’s no denying that the disaster has deeply affected the entire island. However, at this juncture, I’ve heard from tourism employees, local inhabitants, and Hawaiian authorities, all of whom have emphasized the pressing need for tourists to come back to help restore stability to Maui and the broader Hawaiian Islands’ already struggling economy. While it’s impossible to quantify the human and personal toll of the fire’s devastation, analysts have projected that the fires resulted in an economic loss ranging from $4 to $6 billion for the state.

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Maui Tourism – The Reality

The reality is that there were conflicting opinions regarding tourism in the aftermath of the fires, and this wasn’t limited to just immediate visits. Some locals suggested that tourists should refrain from coming to respect those who had suffered significant losses. However, this message was disseminated widely or persisted longer than anticipated, causing challenges for certain small businesses and residents who depend on tourism revenue for their livelihoods.

Tourism has seen a significant decline in various parts of Hawaii, as reported by the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. This decline is particularly pronounced in Maui. According to the latest figures from the Hawaii Bureau of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, in October 2023, Maui welcomed 132,909 visitors, marking a substantial decrease compared to October 2022 (-42.3%) and October 2019 (-44.2%)

Maui is welcoming visitors throughout the entire island, with the exception of the areas directly impacted by the fire. This presents an opportune moment to consider planning your trip, as there are fewer tourists at the moment.

You can currently enjoy a less crowded experience, and prices have somewhat leveled off since the peak of the travel rebound that followed the easing of pandemic-related restrictions. It is crucial for visitors to demonstrate respect and steer clear of the areas most affected by the fires. Let’s all strive to be responsible travelers and avoid engaging in “disaster tourism.”