Big Island tourism taking a hit from dengue outbreak - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Big Island tourism taking a hit from dengue outbreak

WAIPIO VALLEY, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Breathtaking views, dramatic waterfalls and secluded hiking trails bring thousands of tourists to Waipio Valley every year.

But in the last eight days, visitors have had to enjoy the magnificent valley from afar. It remains closed because of the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island, and that's having a bit impact on area businesses that rely on tourism.

"The economic impact of the valley closures is going to be significant," said Elise Mastronardo, who owns Waipio Valley Artworks.

"On a normal day in January, the parking lot would be full. It would be a very, busy, bustling environment."

Gary Matsuo, who owns Waipio Valley Shuttle, said, "Hardly any tourists have come into this area."

Hawaii County Civil Defense closed the valley on January 13 as a precaution after officials found evidence that a resident may have been infected.

Dengue Fever is spread by mosquitoes and so far, there have been 230 reported cases on the Big Island.

While the valley is off limits, the overlook is still open and businesses hope that will still be a draw.

Canadian resident Linda Anderson says her and her family did almost everything they wanted to do on their first Hawaii vacation.

"My only regret is that we didn't get down into the valley, we did the lookout several times, it would have been great," she said.

There's no time line on when the valley will reopen.

Civil Defense officials say the outbreak has to be contained as a first priority.

Shop owners say they are trying to be patient, but know that every day that the valley is closed, it's costly. 

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