Last month, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted after a series of magnitude 5 earthquakes.
As we have reported previously, the Hawaiian Visitors Bureau has been keeping travellers up to date and reassuring them that there is no reason to postpone or cancel any plans to travel to the Hawaiian islands.
To find out more about how Hawaiian tourism has been affected by the volcanic activity, we chatted with Hilton Hawaii’s Regional Director of Corporate Communications, Cynthia Rankin. Rankin is visiting Australia for the Hilton Hawai’i Marketplace which took place last night at Hilton’s Marble Bar in Sydney.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions about the volcano activity,” Rankin told us.
“We wanted to let people know that the area where the volcanic activity is taking place is very small. It’s less than one per cent of the island.”
“The island is huge so our hotels are really not affected, they’re open and all the services are running smoothly.”
According to Rankin, the lava flow has actually given the island the opportunity to showcase this natural wonder to tourists.
“In fact, there are helicopter tours over the flowing lava. Those have become really popular. There are also boat tours, where you can go and watch the lava go into the ocean.”
“Actually, I want to do it because I’ve never seen lava flowing! There’s a lot of really great opportunities for people to see this.”
Despite the visitor’s bureau’s efforts to let travellers know that it is safe to visit Hawaii, Rankin said there has been a slight drop in visits.
“May has been a very good month and we think that’s because people who had already booked when it started erupting came, but we’ve seen a slow down in future bookings,” Rankin admitted.
“That’s something we’re concerned about. People are concerned [about the volcanic activity] so we’re not really seeing the booking pace compared to last year. For the whole island.”
“Hawaii as a whole is doing pretty well it’s just the Big Island that’s seeing a slowdown. Again, everything is open and fine and we want to welcome visitors to the island.”
Volcanos aside, Hilton’s properties in Hawaii have been going through some major changes lately.
As we reported late last month, Hilton has promised to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. Their Hawaiian properties have already begun this process.
“For instance, Hilton Waikoloa Village recently stopped using plastic straws, and all of our other hotels will now follow suit,” she told us.
“Last year they used 800,000 plastic straws. So in February, they switched over to compostable straws throughout the entire resort and you can only get a straw if you ask for it. That’s a real big step for them.”
“One of the big things for our company is sustainability and supporting our local community, local farmers and local purveyors. That’s our theme for Hawaiian Marketplace. Our chef is serving a lot of different things that are actually sourced from Hawaii, he brought them in.”
“And the things he couldn’t bring in are things he would usually use in his dishes in Hawaii from local farmers.”
Having attended the Hawaiian Marketplace event ourselves, we can confirm the food was AMAZING. We made ourselves ill eating far too many delicious poke bowls.
“It’s a huge thing for us to start buying local and it goes along with the 2030 initiative to try to use as many local products as we can.”
“It’s a big part of what we do in Hawaii, like Australia we’re an island state so the more we can source locally the better.”