Jack E. Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays, told Travel Agent Monday that the recent volcanic activity in Hawaii has had little affect on the tour operator’s business to the Aloha State.
“As of [May 14], we have seen very little impact for Kilauea’s recent activity, recording a few cancellations and fewer than 20 changes to vacations on other Hawaii islands,” Richards told Travel Agent.
On May 3, Hawaii's Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Island erupted, causing lava to spew out of cracks in the ground in residential areas and prompting thousands of people to flee. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump declared a Hawaii a major disaster zone after days of volcanic activity on Hawaii Island.
According to CNN, the declaration allows federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by the Kilauea volcanic eruption and earthquake.
Richards told us that Pleasant Holidays is waiving its change fees for clients who wish to move their reservation from Hawaii Island to another island.
"Pleasant Holidays’ office in Honolulu continues to monitor the situation," Richards told Travel Agent, "and will periodically update the website with new information to keep travel agents and travelers informed."
Is Perception Affecting Tourism?
Although Pleasant's business to Hawaii has remained mostly stable so far, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is reporting that tourism across Hawaii Island could suffer because of perception alone. According to the Star-Advertiser, dramatic reports of the volcanic activity, which is still impacting only the area of lower Puna, could scare clients away from visiting the rest of Hawaii Island.
In fact, according to that report, the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau said that business at hotels, including the island’s unaffected west side, are down 50 percent through the summer. Cruise ships are canceling port calls, activity providers are cutting back employee hours and airline sales are softening, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser report.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) issued a statement on Saturday directing 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.
“Until further notice, visitors who have vacation rental reservations in the restricted area should find alternative accommodations,” according to the HTA. “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.”