It’s official: Hawaii Tourism is wide open for business

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It’s official. Hawaii is open for tourism business. The Aloha State is welcoming visitors and there is absolutely no reason for travelers planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands to change or alter their leisure or business travel plans.

This is a welcoming message for the Hawaii travel and tourism industry after earlier reports on the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii Island.

This is the statement just issued by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, a State Agency in charge of promoting the lucrative Hawaii visitors industry.

According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority (HTA) All flights into the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally.

All accommodations, activities, and attractions throughout the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the volcanic activity on the island of Hawaii.

Remote Location on the island of Hawaii’s East Side: None of the Hawaiian Islands are affected by Kilauea volcano except a remote area along the Lower East Rift Zone on the island of Hawaii’s east side, Kilauea Summit and surrounding areas.

Kilauea Summit Activity: Steam and ash outbursts from Halemaumau crater are occurring in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (approximately 40 miles away from the Lower East Rift Zone) and being monitored. This is a natural occurrence as rocks fall into the crater and magma interacts with the groundwater (water table).

Air Quality: Air quality remains largely unchanged with this situation. However, air quality near where the volcanic activity on the island of Hawaii is occurring can be hazardous (SO2-sulfur dioxide) and light ash fall may be present. Officials are continuing to monitor air quality.

Hawaii Tourism Association Blog

A summary of what happened earlier including previous updates relevant to Hawaii Tourism:

MAY 17 KILAUEA SUMMIT ACTIVITY
At 4:17 a.m. HST on May 17, 2018, a steam and ash eruption occurred from Halemaumau Crater within Kilauea Caldera at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, resulting in an ash cloud that drifted northeast. Ash emissions continue from Kilauea summit, which may affect the surrounding areas toward Kau, Volcano, Mountain View, Keaau and as far as Hilo.
To protect yourself from ash:
  • Avoid excessive exposure to ash which is an eye and respiratory irritant.
  • Those with breathing issues should take extra precaution to minimize exposure.
  • Stay indoors and keep your windows closed.
  • If you’re in car, keep your windows closed and drive with caution.
  • All roads remain open.
For a guide on volcanic ash, visit https://bit.ly/2IjIqBV.
MESSAGE FROM HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park emergency managers are urging motorists to slow down and use caution on Highway 11, particularly between mile markers 29 and 29, and Pii Mauna Road, due to cracks in the road and uneven surfaces resulting from an earthquake that occurred on May 16. In addition, motorists are reminded that stopping for non-emergency purposes along the side and shoulders of Highway 11 in Park territory to view the plumes is prohibited.
HAWAII COUNTY CIVIL DEFENSE ERUPTION MAP
To view the interactive map (please wait for the page to load), visit: https://goo.gl/i7RbrB
BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
AIRPORTS, ACCOMMODATIONS AND ACTIVITIES
  • All airports in the Hawaiian Islands continue to operate normally.
  • All accommodations, activities and attractions statewide are also operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the volcanic activity on Hawaii Island.
  • Visitors who have already booked a trip to the island of Hawaii with accommodations or activities in/near the Puna district, should call their provider with any questions or concerns.
  • Effective May 12, those who have vacation rental reservations in the Lower Puna restricted area should find alternative accommodations, until further notice.
EAST RIFT ZONE ERUPTION LOCATION
  • The volcanic activity and where lava has flowed along the East Rift Zone in/near Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions is limited to an isolated area in Lower Puna on the island of Hawaii’s east side. This area in the Puna district covers only less than a 10-square-mile area of the island’s 4,028 square miles. The district of Puna is approximately 500 square miles, or the size of half of Rhode Island.
  • This is more than 100 driving miles away from the western Kohala and Kona Coasts, where the island’s major visitor accommodations and resorts are located, and the area furthest from the current activity.
  • In addition, Hilo town is approximately 20 miles away, and accommodations and activities are unaffected by Kilauea volcano.
  • Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, and has been erupting for the past 35 years.
  • The topography of the island between east and west is unconducive for a natural flow.
VACATION RENTALS IN LOWER PUNA AREA
  • Effective May 12, the County of Hawaii Civil Defense Agency has directed all vacation rental owners and operators in Lower Puna to cease operations so that emergency operations can focus on residents who live in the area.
  • The Lower Puna restricted area encompasses the area accessed by Highway 132 from Leilani Estates to Kapoho, Highway 137 from Kapoho to Kalapana, and Highway 130 from Pahoa to Pohoiki, including Pahoa’s Black Sands Beach Subdivision.
  • Current vacation renters in this restricted area should find alternative accommodations outside the restricted area as soon as possible.
  • Until further notice, visitors who have vacation rental reservations in the restricted area should find alternative accommodations.
  • This directive has been issued to owners and operators of vacation rentals within the restricted area, online advertisers of vacation rentals, current vacation renters in the area, and vacation renters with reservations.
AIR QUALITY
Air quality throughout the Hawaiian Islands remains largely unchanged with the exception of where the volcanic activity is happening can have hazardous levels of SO2 (sulfur dioxide). Officials constantly monitor SO2 levels across the island. VOG or volcanic haze is relatively common on an island with active volcanoes (consider Kilauea has been erupting since 1983) and the level of haze is dependent on volcanic activity and wind direction/strength. To view SO2 conditions in real-time across the state, visit http://www.hiso2index.info/. For statewide Air Quality, visit Air Now at https://bit.ly/2I33ixd (data and forecasts courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Health – Environmental Health).
REPORTS ABOUT ACID RAIN
  • News reports about acid rain during the Kilauea eruption have mischaracterized the severity of its potential effect on human health. In fact, acid rain is a common occurrence anytime there is rainfall on an area where volcanic haze, or VOG, is in the atmosphere, whether on the island of Hawaii or anywhere else in the world.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in a lake affected by acid rain, is no more dangerous to humans than walking in normal rain or swimming in non-acidic lakes.”
  • Data about the composition of rain falling on the island of Hawaii is closely monitored on a continual basis by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program’s National Trends Network.
  • Visit the State Department of Health’s Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard for the latest information at www.ivhhn.org/vog/.
HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closed until further notice. The Park’s Kahuku Unit, which includes a 9-mile scenic drive, cinder cone, and several hiking options, is open during its normal hours, Friday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For Park updates, visit https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm. For Volcano Watch updates, visit https://on.doi.gov/2r8G4zE.
ACCESSIBILITY IN THE PUNA AREA
  • Road closures are taking place on select areas of Highway 130, 132 and 137.
  • No access is allowed at this time for residents of Lanipuna Gardens.
  • Residents and visitors who do not have official business in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are asked to stay away from the area.
  • As a precaution, residents of Lower Puna between Kapoho and Kalapana are advised to be on alert in the event of possible volcanic activity in the area.
  • Temporary flight restrictions are in place for most of Lower Puna. Drones will be confiscated in this area.
  • Those who have rented accommodations or made tour reservations in the general area should check with those respective companies for the latest updates.
  • Unless otherwise noted, area businesses are open and accessible. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and be prepared for increased traffic.
  • Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has closed Lava Tree State Monument and Mackenzie State Recreation Area until further notice.
  • All beach parks in Lower Puna have been closed, including the Pohoiki Boat Ramp.
  • The County of Hawaii has closed the Kalapana Viewing Area until further notice.
VOLCANOES IN HAWAII
Eruptions of Hawaiian volcanoes are typically nonexplosive or weakly explosive. Hawaiian eruptions, which is a term used by volcanologists worldwide to characterize similar eruptive style at other volcanoes, are usually gentle due to its highly fluid lava composition which tends to flow freely both beneath the surface and upon eruption. For more information about Hawaiian eruptions, visit https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/hawaii/page26.html.
Travelers planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands who have questions can contact the Hawaii Tourism United States Call Center at 1-800-GO-HAWAII (1-800-464-2924). For other updates, visit http://hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/special-alert/.
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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.