Visitors, residents flocking to Kilauea to see eruption prove to a boon for nearby businesses

Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 8:46 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 25, 2020 at 8:53 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since the latest eruption at Halemaumau Crater, thousands of tourists and residents alike have been flocking to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

And their presence has had a direct impact on neighboring businesses.

Due to a combination of the 2018 eruption coming to a halt and the COVID-19 pandemic, there haven’t been many visitors to the Kilauea-Volcano Village area. But the latest event has been a welcome surprise.

“We’re excited to have it back, to have the eruption back and it’s nice to see people back in Volcano again, visitors, as well as, locals,” said Kilauea Lodge general manager Janet Coney.

Like many businesses, 2020 took a toll on the lodge, which saw its staff cut to just a handful of employees.

The inn had a solid amount of bookings for the holidays, but Kilauea rumbling once again could keep the calendar packed. “The day after the eruption started, we started getting a flood of bookings back in for 2021,” Coney said. “So it’s definitely picking up and it’s very promising.”

The eruption bump is also paying off for small shops like the Kilauea General store.

“People from all over the world have been coming,” said Kilauea General Store manager Adele Tripp. “We’ve had a lot of Europeans since Monday until today and people have been so excited.”

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park says thousands of people have passed through the park over the last several days to see the latest spectacle.

Here’s another indicator of more cars are in the area:

“We’ve been having to double up on our gas delivery,” Tripp said. “We usually get a gas delivery twice a week for so many gallons, but because of the uptick in gas sales, we’ve been having to bump it up a little bit more.”

While it’s unknown how much longer the activity will continue, businesses are thankful for this latest uptick and ready to go with the flow.

“It’s always ‘is the crater gonna erupt again, when is it gonna start, when is it gonna stop?’” said Tripp, on the questions she’s been hearing from visitors.

“I always think that’s funny questions, sometimes we can be a little bit like ‘Oh, well, we don’t, we’re not Mother Nature. We’re not her. We don’t turn it (the volcano) off and on, but I think those are funny questions that we get all the time.”

With the large crowds comes a higher risk of COVID-spread, so to limit the size of gatherings, HVNP encourages visitors to avoid peak viewing hours of sunset through 10 p.m.

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