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HTA: Kaua‘i is Open for Business

April 23, 2018, 12:30 PM HST
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The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) announces that all of Kaua‘i is open and welcoming travelers to enjoy a beautiful place known as the Garden Island, with the only exception being the northernmost communities from Wainiha to Haena, which are temporarily closed to vehicle traffic while repairs continue to reopen Kūhiō Highway.

Na Pali Coast, Kaua‘i. Photo by Jeff Kubina

That is the message the HTA wants travel trade professionals, industry partners and global travelers in domestic and international markets to remember as they consider booking a trip to Kaua‘i.

Communities in east O‘ahu and Kaua‘i’s north shore recently took the brunt of an abnormally powerful thunderstorm that settled above those areas, first over O‘ahu on the evening of Friday, April 13 and then over Kaua‘i on Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15.

Kaua‘i’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 Kaua‘i residents say they have never seen before. Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured.

George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO, noted that as relief efforts for Kaua‘i’s north shore is continuing, the tourism industry has a vital role in the recovery process. “Kaua‘i, 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.

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“Travelers can book a trip to Kaua‘i with confidence knowing they will enjoy a vacation experience that is uniquely appealing within all of Hawai‘i, while also supporting island businesses and residents who depend on a thriving tourism industry.

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“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 Wai‘oli 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 Hawai‘i and County of Kaua‘i emergency crews have been working around the clock to evacuate residents and visitors from Wainiha to Haena, bring in food, water and supplies, clear away debris and repair the communities’ infrastructure. Residents throughout Kaua‘i have been wonderful in assisting with the relief and recovery efforts, while people from the other islands and outside of Hawai‘i have been generous in donating food, clothing, supplies and funds.

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“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,” said Szigeti. “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,” said Szigeti. “The Hawai‘i 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 Kaua‘i and O‘ahu. This is a collective team effort that reflects the best of Hawai‘iʻs residents, communities and government leaders when help is needed the most.”

Visitors planning a trip to Kaua‘i who have questions can contact the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau Call Center by calling (800) 262-1400.

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