Nothing to Fear, Hawaii Says

Last Thursday’s eruption of Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii isn’t the authentic and hyper-local experience most meeting planners are looking for. But top officials ranging from Hawaii Governor David Ige to George Szigeti, president and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority, want prospective visitors to know it isn’t a reason to stay away, either.

“We have heard from people around the world concerned about Hawaii’s welfare and want to reassure everyone that this is limited to a remote region on the slopes of Kilauea volcano. Everywhere else in the Hawaiian Islands is not affected,” said Ige in a statement.

Szigeti urged travelers with a Hawaii trip booked or planned to come despite the eruption, lava flows that have so far destroyed nearly three dozen structures, mostly homes, hundreds of magnitude 2.0 to 4.0 earthquakes (and one with a magnitude of 6.9) and dangerously high levels of sulfur dioxide in the eruption area. “No flights into airports anywhere in Hawaii have being impacted by Kilauea volcano, and the area where the lava is coming to the surface is very far away from resort areas throughout the Hawaiian Islands,” he said. Visitors can enjoy their experience in Hawaii “to the fullest” as long as they stay out of areas closed to the public.

The closest resort areas, in Kona and the Kohala Coast on the island of Hawaii’s west side, are more than 100 miles away from where red lava is spewing into the air and flow is occurring. These areas are further shielded by the mountains of Maunakea and Maunaloa. Resort areas located on Oahu and Kauai, and in Maui County, are located hundreds of miles from the volcano.

A Smart Meetings observer in Waikiki confirmed that Oahu is conducting business as usual, and that the main island for tourism in the state is “not affected by the volcano.”

Kilauea has been an active volcano since 1983 and is one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions via helicopter or visits to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There is currently a no-fly zone declared over Kilauea. The national park was closed late last week but partially reopened yesterday with limited services.

At least nine fissures erupted overnight Sunday near the Leilani Estates neighborhood on the southeastern part of the island, in the Puna district. “There’s no sign of it slowing down,” Talmadge Magno, the civil defense administrator for the County of Hawaii, said Sunday at a news conference. “We had some pauses yesterday, but it seems like there’s a lot of magma underground.”

Last week Hawaii County ordered evacuations of areas where about 1,800 people live. Fountains of lava have reached heights of 330 feet, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.