Tourism officials to visitors: There's no need to cancel your Hawaii vacation plans

Tourism officials to visitors: There's no need to cancel your Hawaii vacation plans

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the span of less than a month, access to three of Hawaii's most popular visitor attractions has been either limited or eliminated – and tourism officials are beginning to fear the closures could be bad for business.

Last month, historic flooding on Kauai wreaked havoc on several north shore communities, including Haena and Wainiha, the two towns closest to the island's famed Na Pali Coast.

Kuhio Highway is still washed out on the north side of Hanalei, and even if visitors could access the start of the Kalalau Trail, landslides destroyed portions of the popular hiking trail; the state does not yet know when they'll be able to reopen it to visitors.

Amidst ongoing volcanic activity on Hawaii Island and the threat of a steam eruption from Kilauea, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii Island's primary visitor attraction – was closed to visitors on Friday for an indefinite period of time.

And the National Parks Service on Thursday temporarily suspended all accesss to the USS Arizona Memorial to 'address the structural integrity of the facility.' Visitors are still able to tour the Valor in the Pacific National Monument, but can not disembark on the sea-born memorial.

Visitors call the closures 'unfortunate,' but Hawaii's top tourism official says the state is still open for business.

"If you go to Pearl Harbor, you'll still be able to do harbor tours, you're still going to be able to go to the Bowfin, the Missouri, the aviation museum which is amazing," said George Szigeti, the CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

With regard to Hawaii Island and Kauai, Szigeti says visitors actually play an important role in the rebuilding process.

"Do not go in those restricted areas. Respect the fact that local residents are trying to restore their lives," said Szigeti. "That message is very very important to us, but the rest of the island is open for business."

Visitors, meanwhile, say they're doing their best to enjoy time spent in Hawaii.

"That doesn't change our plans. We're still here experiencing a piece of history, and that's the most important part about being here," said Ashley Delisle, a tourism from Oklahoma. "We can kind of relate, being from Oklahoma. We have a lot of tornadoes where we're from, so we know you guys are going through some difficult times. But we knew it wouldn't impact our plans, so we're happy to be here."

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