Will the volcano hurt hawaii’s tourism data recovery galaxy s4

Ross Birch, executive director of the island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, kept the good news going Wednesday when he shared that domestic passenger arrivals to Hawaii island from May 1 to May 20 are pacing more than 26 percent ahead of last year despite the lava flow that began May 3.

Birch also reported that Norwegian Cruise Line will resume Kona visits Wednesday and return to Hilo on June 6. That’s welcome news since NCL’s decision to temporarily suspend Hawaii island stops caused devastating impacts to some of the isle’s retailers and activity providers, who Birch said were losing $10,000 to $15,000 each time a cruise ship missed port.

"Everything through April looked peachy keen, even with flooding on Kauai, but now we’ve had this volcano," Churchill said. "It doesn’t look like there is any sign of it slowing down and if it continues, it’s definitely going to affect the 2018 tourism numbers."

Hawaii island hasn’t seen the same type of eruption since 1955. The most recent eruption has closed two-thirds of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park due to increased seismic activity, ash fall and steam. Officials are warning the public of the hazards of volcanic ash, toxic sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide and "laze" — or lava haze — when hot lava mixes with cold seawater to produce a plume of steam laced with hydrochloric acid and glass particles.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also reported continued eruptions and ground cracking in the Lower East Rift Zone, particularly in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, as well as high ash emissions at the Kilauea summit, with plumes up to 8,000 feet high.

Airbnb, which has complied with the ban, said it has experienced a 9 percent drop in Hawaii island business from cancellations since the eruptions began. While the cancellations include the banned lower Puna inventory, they also include inventory as far away as Hilo, Kona and Waimea, the company said.

"Overall, we remain bullish on fiscal year 2018 as we have not seen any significant airline capacity reductions for Hawaii as of (Wednesday) and the NCL Cruise Lines announcement (Wednesday) said they will include Kona is a positive for tourism," Richards said.

Sean Dee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, is not so optimistic. He estimates the booking pace for Hawaii island hotels through the next 90 days is off 50 percent from last year. Statewide, the pace is off an estimated 10 percent, he said.

"Traffic has slowed down a bit from Japan, which tends to be a very sensitive market, and from the U.S. mainland. We’re getting lots of calls asking if it’s OK to come," Gibson said. "Even hotels along the Kohala Coast, which are very far from the volcano, are being affected. We’re all trying to get the message out that we are open for business."

Gibson said Hilton puts out "generous offers" when it is looking for business. Hilton Waikoloa Village starts an all-inclusive sale today, that covers booking periods through December. Rates start at $179-per-person-per day for the five-night minimum package, which includes the room, and three meals and drinks daily for two people.