Hawaii Governor: Only a Small Portion of State Is Off Limits for Tourism

Lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is pouring into the sea and setting off a chemical reaction that creates giant clouds of acid and fine glass. // Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via AP, Newscred

Hawaii Governor David Ige again vouched to the traveling public on Monday that the Hawaiian Islands remain completely safe for tourism, aside from a very small portion on Hawaii Island affected by the volcanic activity that began at Kilauea on May 3. 

"This is a time to listen to the experts on-site and to trust what they are reporting and recommending," said Ige in a written statement. "The experts are telling us there is no danger from the eruptions to anyone outside the areas that have been evacuated. There is no threat of a tsunami. Air quality is being closely studied and is of most concern in the immediate area inside where the volcanic activity is taking place."

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), none of the Hawaiian Islands are affected by the Kilauea volcano, except a remote area along the Lower East Rift Zone on Hawaii Island’s east side, Kilauea Summit and surrounding areas. 

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"Visitors to Hawaii can be assured that the volcanic activity is having no effect whatsoever on the other islands, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kauai," said Ige. "Visitors can book their trips comfortable in the knowledge that their vacation experience will provide all the enjoyment they expect when coming to our beautiful islands.

All flights into the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally, and 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 Hawaii Island, according to the HTA. 

"All of Hawaii is open for business and welcoming visitors with the hospitality, aloha, warmth and picturesque settings visitors seek in our islands," said Ige. "This includes Hilo, Pahoa and the Kona and Kohala coasts on the island of Hawaii. The one area that people need to avoid is lower Puna where the eruption is ongoing."

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the HTA, added that travel to and within the Hawaiian Islands is unimpeded by the Kilauea volcano. 

"Summer is just a couple of weeks away and there is no reason for travelers to delay in booking their vacation plans,” said Szigeti. “The number of flights serving Hawaii has never been greater and there is an abundance of choices for travelers to select in choosing the accommodations and activities they want to enjoy in the Hawaiian Islands."

Kilauea has been an active volcano since 1983 and is one of Hawaii's most popular attractions. Over the years residents and visitors have been drawn to the wonder of seeing nature at work in the creation of new land via tours or visits to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Most of the park is currently closed until further notice.

Cruise

Although hotels in popular resort areas on Hawaii Island have all remained opened, the disaster has been causing some cruise disruptions. Norwegian Cruise Line, which skipped a call to Hilo and Kona last week, announced Tuesday morning that Pride of America overnighted in Honolulu, Oahu, on Saturday, May 19. Additionally, instead of visiting Hilo and Kona, the ship will call in multiple ports on the island of Maui, including an overnight in Kahului on Monday, May 21 and a call to Lahaina on Wednesday, May 23.

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises recently cancelled the Sea Princess call to Hilo on May 18, while Royal Caribbean canceled a call at Hilo by Radiance of the Seas on May 7.

Accommodations and Activities

According to the HTA, 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.

Flight Waivers

Hawaiian Airlines recently announced that effective immediately, guests holding tickets for travel on Hawaiian Airlines flights to/from Hilo, Hawaii (ITO) or Kona, Hawaii (KOA) between May 3 and May 31 will be permitted a one-time reservation change with waiver of change fee provided that the ticket was issued on/before May 4 and the affected flight(s) is/are originally scheduled for travel on May 3 through May 31. Also, changes must be ticketed for new flights no later than June 7 and travel must also commence no later than June 7.

In addition, for changes made to new flights on or before June 7, any resulting difference in fare(s) will be waived provided that change is made to the same compartment (i.e. Coach to Coach or First Class to First Class) and there is no change in origin and destination. For changes made to new flights after June 7, the change fee will be waived but applicable difference in fare will be collected.

United Airlines announced that change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between May 16  and May 25 as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

For wholly rescheduled travel departing after May 25, or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel must be completed within one year from the date when the ticket was issued.

Delta is issuing flight waiver for guest with tickets for flights departing between May 7 and May 25. Tickets must be reissued on or before May 28. Rebooked travel must begin no later than May 28. 

American Airlines recently announced that a change fee may be waived for guests traveling on either an American or Hawaiian Airlines flight. The waiver applies to guests who bought their ticket by May 5 for travel from May 5 to May 28. 

Visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

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