Maui Infighting Erupts Over Reopening While Flights Dwindle

On Sunday, the official reopening of West Maui is scheduled to take place. But if the Maui County Council has its way, that might not even happen. That decision remains until the 11th hour, in the hands of Hawaii’s governor.

If the reopening occurs, is expected to have little official fanfare given the tragic and deadly circumstances, still fresh in our minds, which caused the state to dissuade visitors in August from coming to Maui in the first place.

Since that indelible August day, the situation has devolved to the latest infighting that now includes the County Council, the State, and social media. The reality is that Maui is not yet seeing signs of recovery, so, in addition, airlines continue to pull back on flights. None of this is good.

Few additional visitors are expected.

As we confirmed previously, West Maui Reopening with Grim Prospect of Visitors. Now, the Maui Lodging and Hotel Assn has stated regarding tomorrow’s October 8 reopening, “The sentiment is that we’ll have this onslaught of visitors, and that’s not just going to happen.”

West Maui occupancy will remain under 10% at the time of opening.

But even that is a significant improvement, more than double what has been recently. There’s still hope for that to rise, as we said, to the low 30% range before Thanksgiving. Those numbers are, of course, shockingly low by any prior measure.

County council says, No!, West Maui should not open on October 8.

As if the situation wasn’t already crazy enough, with so many mixed messages confusing visitors and businesses alike, late yesterday, the Maui County Council voted unanimously to support a petition asking the governor to postpone reopening to a future date!

The council, in agreement with the petition that already has 17k signatures, requests the state help West Maui residents heal, rebuild, and regain a sense of normalcy first. Petitioners say reopening poses a significant challenge to the emotional well-being of displaced Lahaina residents. The resolution was the result of ten hours of Maui residents’ testimony. Another council member added, “I hope that it sends a loud message.”

It doesn’t appear Governor Green will heed the Maui County Council’s request.

Read: Airlines Pulls Back on Maui Flights Due to Lack of Demand.

Staggered approach to West Maui reopening has no set dates.

When Maui announced that it would apply a staggered approach to reopening, starting from north (phase one) to south, they did not say when the next phases would occur. We don’t think it will be long until phase two is announced. That will cover the area as far south as Kaanapali Villas.

All of Maui remains impacted by the loss of visitors following the Lahaina fire.

Occupancy throughout Maui has not recovered since the fire when visitors were asked to leave the entire island and all of the negative press that ensued.

More on the 17,000 petition signatures

Lahaina residents have sent the petition to Governor Green requesting the delay of reopening of West Maui to visitors, stating that the community is not ready, is still grieving, and requires more time.

Residents have only been able to return to their Lahaina burn properties over the past few weeks. The petition states, “Delaying the reopening will allow for a more comprehensive and inclusive approach that considers the welfare and well-being of all West Maui residents and visitors alike.”

On the other hand, Green replied, “Some people aren’t ready, and we’re going to let people find their own time and way, with our administration providing the services they need to help them get there. We will gently reopen in partnership with Mayor Bissen and the County of Maui and will utilize a phased approach throughout October.”

If you were Governor Green, what would you do? Reopen or wait.

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59 thoughts on “Maui Infighting Erupts Over Reopening While Flights Dwindle”

  1. We had plans to go to Maui
    For the week after the fire. We have been going semi annuall since our marriage and have great empathy for the loss of Lahina. We cancelled our trip in respect for those impacted in the tragedy. It is a fine line between allowing people to get back to normalcy vs no employment. We need guidance from those impacted, not the politicians.

  2. There’s an old Popeye cartoon called “Let’s You & Him Fight.” Beat of Hawaii tries to be so careful with its comment rules. And yet, there’s an ugly brawl going on over this website. The state and county — they’ve set up an impossible situation, and now stand back and watch “tourists” and “locals” duke it out. Neither of these groups made this happen; everyone will lose. The government is not taking responsibility for its negligence and ongoing responsibility. The only path forward is legitimate leadership, not encouraging desperate, flailing anger at “the other.”

  3. You know , I do find it weird that
    1. I didn’t hear of a council meeting about this with all those people against opening up there. Was there a public announcement? So the other side could speak as well?

    2. I remember seeing a video of the Lahaina council women being interviewed in her mobile home saying that this almost happened in 2018 with that big fire, and they learned a lot from that fire….🤔. So what did she and the rest of our council learn.
    It doesn’t seem like they learned anything.


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