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Mayor says West Maui will reopen to tourism on November 1

By Audrey McAvoy | Associated Press

HONOLULU — All of West Maui, except burned sections of historic Lahaina, will reopen to tourism on Nov. 1 following the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century , the Maui County mayor said Monday.

Mayor Richard Bissen said he made the decision after discussing it with his Lahaina advisory team, the Red Cross and other partners.

West Maui has about 11,000 hotel rooms, about half of Maui’s total. Travelers evacuated these hotels after the Aug. 8 fire raged through the town of Lahaina, killing at least 99 people and destroying more than 2,000 buildings.

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said last month that West Maui would officially reopen to tourism on Oct. 8 to bring back much-needed jobs and help the economy recover. Bissen amended the governor’s statement with a phased plan, allowing a small section on the northern edge of West Maui to open first, with the remainder to follow at an undetermined date.

The community had a heated debate over when to welcome travelers to the disaster area. Some residents wrote a petition opposing the return of tourists, saying the community was not ready.

Bissen said Monday that workers were ready to return to work while acknowledging that “it’s not for everyone.”

Those who are not ready to return to work on Nov. 1 should talk to their employers and “continue to seek the help and attention they need,” Bissen said during a broadcast news conference in Lahaina. live online.

The mayor said many residents are also concerned about not having child care available. He said county partners are working on this issue.

Residents who were staying in West Maui hotels and other short-term lodging after losing their homes in the fire will not lose their housing, the mayor said.

“The Red Cross assures us that their housing will not be threatened,” Bissen said.

The mayor said the reopening schedule was voluntary and some properties had already reopened on their own.


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