The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the Hawai‘i Hotel Alliance (HHA) have joined forces with the State of Hawai‘i to assist with disaster relief in West Maui, following the widespread destruction caused by wildfires during Hurricane Dora.
Wildfires, intensified by Hurricane Dora’s 60 mph gusting winds, have killed at least 36 people on Hawaii’s Maui island. The US Coast Guard rescued individuals who sought escape by jumping into the ocean, while search and rescue operations continue. Firefighting efforts are hindered by obstacles like downed power lines.
Acting Hawaii Gov. Sylvia Luke declared a state of emergency, activating the National Guard and evacuating over 2,100 residents to shelters. She emphasized the fires’ profound impact on the state’s health, welfare, and economy.
Tourists are advised to avoid Maui, resulting in 2,000 travelers being stranded at the Maui International Airport. The island also experienced about 16,000 power outages.
Jerry Gibson, President of the Hawai‘i Hotel Alliance, emphasized their commitment to keeping open communication with Lahaina and other affected parts of West Maui, as well as the broader island community. Many hotels in the region are relying on diesel generators, underscoring the urgent need for refueling. The priority for these hotels is to ensure the safety and essential needs of their staff, guests, and the entire West Maui community, especially as access to the area is becoming increasingly limited.
Both AHLA and HHA are in continuous dialogue with state officials, including the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s Offices, to streamline their response efforts. Chip Rogers, President & CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, urged those with upcoming travel plans to Maui to reconsider, stating, “Given the state is discouraging nonessential travel into Maui, we encourage guests with pending travel to rebook at a future date.”
To alleviate the immediate displacement issues, the AHLA and HHA are vigorously working to avail rooms on O‘ahu for Maui residents and visitors needing evacuation. This initiative is being spearheaded in collaboration with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.
Local hotel resources, including ballrooms, equipment, and staff, are being deployed to aid the relief operations. Efforts are underway to expedite the return of nonessential travelers from Maui to their homes.
Kekoa McClellan, representing both AHLA, HHA, and multiple major Maui hotel proprietors, expressed deep concern over the situation, adding, “As an industry, we are leaning into this and doing everything we can to support Maui Nui and our ‘Ohana dealing with this crisis.”