IT MAY seem fairly obvious to say this but one of the great things about travel is that it brings people together.

Literally, emotionally, culturally and sometimes even spiritually.

The recent tragic events in Hawaii have once again seen the travel world united to provide support and comfort to those affected by the disaster. It’s why we’ve used our September cover to send a message to one of Australia’s favourite destinations that they are not alone. 

Multiple wildfires have caused loss of life and huge damage to the communities of West Maui. My family spent a fabulous holiday in Lahaina a few years back and it’s sad to think that many of the shops, restaurants and homes we saw have probably been reduced to ashes.

Yet with the spirit and fortitude that makes Hawaiians symbiotic with Aussies, the locals are standing firm in the face of nature’s wrath.

According to the latest update from Hawaii Tourism, chefs, eateries and even food trucks have been offering free meals to those who have lost everything and the first responders battling to save lives and homes.

Fundraising concerts and events are already being planned with this month’s Hana Hou Music Festival planning to donate all profits to the Maui Strong Fund.

Hotels have joined the cause, some offering a percentage of future bookings to help raise $US1 million for Maui families in need. Even prominent artists have donated works to the ‘Art for Maui’ initiative.

All of which is fantastic news, but there’s also a vitally important role the travel industry can play going forward.

Naturally, the area has seen a massive drop in the number of tourists since the disaster unfolded.

Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, told various news outlets they were seeing cancellations across the board with Maui dipping to about 57 per cent occupancy. Rental cars are sitting unused at the airport and planes are arriving half full.

This is bad news for the local economy as it’s estimated almost three-quarters of every dollar in Maui is generated by the tourism industry. Clearly, many local livelihoods depend on the tourists for their income.

It’s why Josh Green, Governor of Hawaii, has emphasised that travel to unaffected areas of Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands is safe, encouraged and welcomed, underlining the importance of supporting the local economy and aiding the recovery of affected communities through travel.

So, when considering your next holiday, why not give Hawaii a thought? You’ll be helping those in need and at the same time guaranteeing yourself a taste of that famed Aloha spirit.

Anyone wanting to make donations to help communities and families recover on Maui can do so through the Maui Strong Fund established by the Hawaii Community Foundation.


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