Is Now The Right Time To Visit Maui?

A lot has been said about supporting Maui islanders in their plight to overcome the challenges brought on by one of the worst disasters in Hawaii’s history.   There is an emerging controversy surrounding the idea of whether one should visit Maui in a typical vacation setting or hold off on a trip because now is not the right time.

My goal in this article is to give you questions to consider so that you can be confident that the way in you have decided to help Maui has undergone reasonable consideration.  It also serves as a resource for those that need to defend their decision, if only to themselves.

Maui’s Economy is Suffering

Right now, the visitor industry on Maui is in freefall with empty hotels and flights. The “Don’t Come to Maui Right Now” messaging is resonating. On the other hand, the unintended consequence is a growing economic disaster.  Economists are estimating that if large parts of Maui’s visitor industry closes down through November, losses could be “in the neighborhood of a billion dollars.” And unlike during COVID times, there won’t be financial compensation to all the mostly-unaffected residents of Maui for staying home.

How Can You Support Maui? Charitable Giving

First, you can support established charities. As we mentioned in our previous article “We’re Still In Shock Over Maui Lahaina Fires” :

The site is the one I have bookmarked as a single, authoritative site that you can vector off and find whatever you are looking for. Two organizations you can support whose names keep coming up everywhere I look are Hawaii Red Cross and the Hawaii Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund. Every one of us can help in our own way and if you haven’t already done so, please help those who need your assistance. 

How Can You Support Maui? Buy Maui Products

Another way you can support Maui is to buy your favorite products from existing Maui businesses. Do your online research to find products you need and find a Maui business that can provide you with a solution. Those that don’t feel good about visiting Maui and want to go beyond charitable donations would do well to buy a lot of products from Maui-located businesses.  They are all hurting right now and your purchases would be an extremely efficient way to both receive direct benefit to you (via a product that you need) as well as providing much-needed funds that will be used in the most efficient way possible, assuming that one believes individuals allocate their own funds much more efficiently than agencies distributing other people’s money. 

How Can You Support Maui? Visit Maui

The current collapse of Maui’s visitor industry has left countless people unemployed with little recourse other than unemployment insurance.  And I’m not talking about those whose place of employment was destroyed in Lahaina;  I’m talking about the countless jobs in perfectly capable areas that were mostly unaffected by the fire.  

Who is helping them?

There is a growing realization that Maui’s visitor industry needs to continue to provide for those that are reliant on it. And aside from the extremely remote possibility that everyone in Maui will be buoyed by financial aid, there really is only one way these people can survive, and that’s via their jobs in the visitor industry supported by visitors staying in their hotels, eating at their restaurants, buying their products, driving their cars, and enjoying their organized activities.

What Supports Maui Better – Donations or Vacations?

Back of the napkin says for a family of 4, a 7 day Maui vacation will cost roughly $8,000. How many people will receive a portion of this $8,000?  How does this number compare to even a generous charitable donation?  

Best of Both Worlds – Go On A Volunteering Vacation – a “Volcation”

For those that love Maui and it’s people, want to visit, but feel now is not the time, perhaps you need to go on a “Volcation” to Maui which would be something like:

  • Sign up in advance to volunteer – i.e. Red Cross etc.  Do your research. Find as many organizations as you can. At the very least, there are several churches which would love your help.
  • Make travel arrangements and plan around volunteering every day. 
  • Go to Maui, help the lives of others, and have the time of your life doing it. 

While this isn’t for everyone, I can almost guarantee that you’ll have an unforgettable life-changing experience and will have made countless friends for life.  You’ll always have a home in Maui after you do something like this. 

Victims, Survivors, and the Impacted Have Different Needs

Everyone in Maui has been affected, albeit differently, by this incredible tragedy.  They all need appropriate levels of support and the key word to emphasize here is “appropriate”.  A family that has lost members to the fire and no longer has a home has vastly different needs than the family on the other side of the island whose parents are now unemployed because the hotel and restaurant where they worked is empty. 

Their needs are different, but they both need our help.  It is wrong to only help one and ignore the other. 

What Kind of Support Do Maui Islanders Want?

This is perhaps the hardest question to directly answer. It’s easy to click a Paypal button, zing over a donation, and feel good that you did your part. You can and should feel good about it – not everyone is donating like you did.  

One thing that Heidi said really stuck out to me at our last live show:

“People who just lost their homes don’t need a whole bunch of clothes right now”

– which is to say that there’s no point in sending over things that people don’t need. 

What help do they need? And how can you leverage the divine gifts you have been given to fill that need?  Perhaps start with that question, see where it takes you, and have the courage to follow through with a meaningful support of Maui islanders that you can genuinely and deeply feel good about.