On August 8, 2023, quickly spreading wildfires ignited through Maui into what Gov. Josh Green described as “the largest natural disaster in Hawaii’s state history.”  Lives were lost, businesses were shattered and families displaced.  It made instant headlines across the globe, with the focus being, “Do not travel to Maui.”  As important as this message was in the beginning, it no longer holds true.  Maui relies on tourism as its heartbeat.  In fact, it is necessary for survival.  Unfortunately, as other headlines came in, Maui news fell off the radar with little updates on status.  In this blog we asked one of our Maui vendors, Jonas Kanahele, Owner and Creative Director at Artisan Events Maui, important questions that pertain to Maui now, focusing specifically on traveling and holding events in the beautiful destination.


What is life currently like in Maui for you and your team?

Our Industry is slowly picking back up. August and Sept brought a huge setback for our whole Island and the vast majority of residents are on partial or full time unemployment. Tourism is slowly picking back up and we will look towards rebuilding and recovering from the financial impacts. The remainder of the year is slow but there are events on the horizon. 


What is the biggest misconception people have, or the news/ social media has brought to the forefront in planning events/ traveling to Maui after this disaster?

Understandably so, visitors are unsure of if they should visit Maui or not. The narrative of “Maui is Closed” was damaging to the event industry as well as all businesses who rely on visitors who come to the Islands to experience, understand and enjoy what Maui has to offer. As we try to rebuild, now more than ever, we need Responsible Tourism with the ideals of respect and appreciation. 


What is the reality of traveling and/ or throwing an event in Maui now or in the near future (ie are the tourist parts up and running; are airports and transportation up and running; were major resorts hit; how is staffing?)

Upcountry, Paia, Kihei, Wailea, central Maui and Hana are fully open and eager to welcome responsible tourism. The resorts in Kihei & Wailea as well as shops and restaurants are open and in need of visitors. There have been many that have had to cut back on staffing temporarily due to a lack of visitors but are and will continue to ramp up upon the increase in visitors. 

Parts of West Maui have begun re-opening and welcoming Tourism and Mostly all the large resorts there operational. There are several displaced families (Lahaina Residents who lost their homes) that are living in the West Maui resorts and the atmosphere there is still very delicate. Visitors to West Maui should tread very lightly as emotions of all that was lost across the island are still very exposed especially so in West Maui. The devastation zone is absolutely a no-go area and not a place for photo ops.  


How can we help to directly impact the recovery to the locals and local businesses?

 Most businesses just need support financially. Gift card purchases for future visits or trips in the near future if you can come and enjoy in person. Our economy just needs the injection of funds to help support our community.

If you have a current trip to Maui, please don’t cancel. If you are planning an event or events in Maui, consider sourcing your rentals & décor locally to support vendors as much as possible ensuring funds stay within the economy. Encourage guests to donate/volunteer. 


Is there anything else you want people planning travel to Maui to know?

Come with respect, appreciation and understanding. Be an advocate for all that Maui has to offer and has lost. 



Are there any donation sites that you would like to refer people to?

Maui Rapid Response


Maui Community Relief



Photos from Artisan Events Maui