BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island tourism leaders received a glimmer of hope on Wednesday after Norwegian Cruise Line officials announced they will be resuming trips to Kona next week.
Many Big Island businesses and leaders have expressed concern in the past few weeks as eruptions, earthquakes, and hazardous gases have plagued the lower Puna area, deterring tourists and businesses alike.
A number of customers canceled plans — in part due to confusion about where the eruptions were taking place — and businesses 100 miles away have said cancellations have been swift and sudden.
However, Norwegian Cruise Line's recent announcement is a turn in a positive direction:
"Over the last couple of weeks we have been carefully monitoring the geological conditions on The Big Island of Hawaii. We are pleased that Pride of America will begin calling again to Kona on May 30 following two days in in Kahului, Maui on May 28 and May 29.
The Big Island of Hawaii is an incredible destination for our guests and we are proud to have faithfully visited its ports for the last 14 years.
Our top priority continues to be the safety and security of our guests and crew. We will continue to assess the situation carefully and will make changes to our planned itineraries if conditions warrant. We will commence calls to Hilo as soon as conditions allow."
Big Island tourism officials said that the pause in visits to its Kona and Hilo ports has had the greatest impact to tourism, so the cruise line's return is a big boost amid the drop in business.
Hawaii Forest and Trails' vice president of sales and marketing says they're looking at a 30 percent loss in revenue for the month of May.
"It's extremely frustrating to get across to individuals how large the island is," said Robert Birch, with the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau. "There's a couple activities that have actually closed their doors because their business is typically around the entire volcano."
Closure costs have been soaring at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed for nearly two weeks, resulting in losses that have reached $6 million.
Despite the Big Island's drop in business, flights coming in across the state have increased by 25 percent, according to state tourism officials.