Hawaii urges tourists to visit Maui as unemployment claims rise

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Supplies for the victims of the Lahaina fire are collected and delivered by Hawaiians sailing on a large catamaran that often sails around the world together to the neighbors of Lahaina.

Robert Gauthier | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Officials in Hawaii are encouraging tourists to visit Maui to support the economy as unemployment claims rose on the island following deadly wildfires in the western region.

West Maui is off limits to visitors through at least Oct. 17 while search and recovery efforts continue in the devastated town of Lahaina, according to Gov. Josh Green.

But the governor and the Hawaii Tourism Authority are encouraging tourists to visit all other areas of Maui to help support a local economy reeling from the devastation caused by the fires. .

Senator Brian Schatz said that cuts and layoffs are starting to build because people think the entire island is closed.

Unemployment claims in Maui have risen from 130 shortly before the fires to 4,449 as of last week, according to data from the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

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Schatz encouraged tourists to visit South Maui, saying “If you are planning a trip to Wailea or Kihei, don’t cancel. If you want to come to Hawaii pls consider South Maui” in a social media post Thursday.

Green said Monday that the affected area is limited to West Maui, adding that the rest of the island and the state were safe.

“When you come, you will support our local economy and help speed up the recovery of the people who are suffering right now,” Green said Monday at a press conference with the President Joe Biden.

At least 115 people are dead and the region has sustained billions of dollars in property damage as a result of the deadliest fires in the US in more than a century and the worst disaster in the history of the state of Hawaii.

Moody’s estimates this week that the wildfires have caused between $4 billion and $6 billion in economic losses. The estimate appears to be low as it focuses on damage to physical infrastructure.

This figure did not take into account the expected impact on Hawaii’s gross domestic product, the money spent by government agencies on the response and the social costs.

Moody’s said the rebuilding process will add to the overall economic losses due to the impact of inflation during a recovery that is expected to take years, the high cost of labor in the construction industry and due to the high cost of goods and services. associated with the remote location of Maui. .

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