Hawaii Tourism at Risk as Volcano Eruption Continues

Hawaii relies on tourism as much or more than any state. Hawaii, known as the Big Island, accounts for a large portion. The Kilauea volcano that recently erupted wildly is located on Hawaii. If the eruption continues for any long period, Hawaii’s tourism dollars will take a hit.

Based on several sources, Hawaii is the 10th most visited state by tourists. Given its geography and population, this is an outsized number. Total dollars from tourism last year were $17 billion, which generated almost $2 billion in taxes. Nearly a quarter of the state’s gross domestic product is from tourism. Of that number, about 20% goes to the Big Island, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Over half goes to the more populated Oahu.

There is no way to know how much of the usual tourist traffic will cancel trips or book plans to go elsewhere, but there is no question some people will stay away. The most badly hurt businesses will be hotels and vacation spots, along with transportation.

A report from CNN said the disputation of traveler plans has already begun:

Hawaiian authorities are urging sightseers to stay away as Leilani Estates residents return to check on their neighborhood, which is threatened by lava and toxic gases emerging from fissures in the subdivision.

Big Island’s Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, spewing molten rock and high levels of sulfur dioxide.

Cracks emerged in the volcano’s East Rift Zone — an area of fissures miles away from the volcano’s summit. All residents of Leilani Estates, a community of about 1,700 people near Big Island’s eastern edge, and nearby Lanipuna Gardens were ordered to evacuate.

The eruption was followed by a 6.9-magnitude earthquake Friday.

The disaster is not over, and so far the signs hint that it may not be soon.

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