Tourism Authority: Kaua‘i is Open for Business
The HTA says the only exception is the northernmost communities from Wainiha to Hāʻena, which are temporarily closed to vehicle traffic while repairs continue to reopen Kūhiō Highway.
That is the message the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority wants travel trade professionals, industry partners and global travelers in domestic and international markets to remember as they consider booking a trip to Kauaʻi.
Communities in east Oʻahu and Kauaʻi’s north shore recently took the brunt of an abnormally powerful thunderstorm that settled above those areas, first over Oʻahu on the evening of April 13 and then over Kauaʻi on April 14 and 15.
Kauaʻi’s north shore absorbed the worst of the thunderstorm with more than 28 inches of record-setting rainfall in a 24-hour period, resulting in flooding, landslides blocking Kūhiō Highway, and extensive property damage, the totality of which some lifelong Kauaʻi residents say they have never seen before.
George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO, noted that as relief efforts for Kauaʻi’s north shore continue, the tourism industry has a vital role in the recovery process. “Kauaʻi, including most of Hanalei on the north shore, is open for business and ready to share the charms and beauty of this idyllic, unforgettable island with visitors from around the world.
“Travelers can book a trip to Kauaʻi with confidence knowing they will enjoy a vacation experience that is uniquely appealing within all of Hawaiʻi, while also supporting island businesses and residents who depend on a thriving tourism industry.
“Before the thunderstorm, Hanalei was bustling with business because of tourism. Since then, visitors have been staying away from Hanalei, which is hurting businesses and putting at risk the jobs they provide to residents. Visitors can help with the north shoreʻs recovery by patronizing Hanaleiʻs restaurants, retail shops, specialty stores and activities that support the livelihoods of so many area residents.
“We also ask visitors to be respectful and avoid going into neighborhoods where recovery efforts are ongoing, and to not go beyond Waioli Huiia Church in Hanalei or try to enter the closed section of Kūhiō Highway until State and County officials reopen it to all vehicle traffic.”
Since the thunderstorm ended, State of Hawaiʻi and County of Kauaʻi emergency crews have been working around the clock to evacuate residents and visitors from Wainiha to Hāʻena, bring in food, water and supplies, clear away debris and repair the communities’ infrastructure. Residents throughout Kauaʻi have been wonderful in assisting with the relief and recovery efforts, while people from the other islands and outside of Hawaiʻi have been generous in donating food, clothing, supplies and funds.
Szigeti said, “It’s been inspiring to see so many individuals and companies from around the state come forward with donations and volunteer their time to help those in need. I believe what we will remember most from this disaster are the extraordinary efforts to help rebuild these communities and assist our fellow residents. Everyone has come together, unified with a single purpose to do what’s best for the greater good of all and that’s the way it should always be.
“The work done by State and County emergency crews has been awesome and they are making tremendous progress every day. The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency has provided the guidance and logistical support needed to help get our communities and residents back on track. Our state lawmakers deserve a huge mahalo for quickly appropriating $125 million in funding to support the relief and recovery efforts on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu. This is a collective team effort that reflects the best of Hawaiʻiʻs residents, communities and government leaders when help is needed the most.”
Visitors planning a trip to Kauaʻi who have questions can contact the Kauaʻi Visitors Bureau Call Center by calling 1-800-262-1400.