Report: Recovery taking shape on Maui, but disaster’s economic toll will linger for years

Recovery teams fan out in Lahaina
Recovery teams fan out in Lahaina(DVIDS)
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 11:48 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new UH report underscores the economic toll of devastating wildfires on Maui, estimating the island lost more than $13 million in visitor spending each day in the weeks following the disaster.

The good news: The beginnings of a tourism recovery are already taking shape.

“Central and South Maui resorts will be the first areas to see substantial recovery,” the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said, in the new report.

“The planned Oct. 8 reopening of unaffected West Maui resort areas will restart tourism in the region, although we expect recovery there to be gradual.”

Economists say by the end of the year, Maui visitor arrivals will likely reach about 50% of their 2022 levels and 80% by the end of 2024. “Gains will be gradual ... because of continued temporary housing needs and lingering reluctance of some travelers,” UHERO said.

The disaster has triggered mass layoffs.

Maui’s unemployment rate is forecast to soar to about 11% in the fourth quarter. And economists say it likely won’t dip below 4% until late 2026.

To see the full UHERO report, click here.