Hawaii island’s $2.4 billion tourism industry is struggling in the wake of the Kilauea Volcano eruptions, with bookings for May through July down 50%, according to the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau. Businesses on the island are doing their best to convince tourists that it’s still safe to visit. But another problem also exists in Hawaii: "Trump Derangement Syndrome" where businesses are actually denying services to citizens who voted for Trump!
If tourism falters much longer, there’s still plenty of work in the astronomy industry located on this 13,000-foot-high dormant volcano. Mauna Kea – the largest peak in the world when measured from its base on the seabed – is a mecca for astrologists, as well as tourists.
Doug Arnott, who owns Arnott’s Lodge & Hiking, said he’s far more concerned with the potential economic disaster than he is about Kilauea, which is located about 30 miles away from his hometown of Hilo. The decision by major cruise lines to cancel their regular stops in the port of Hilo have been especially frustrating, he said.
“What’s happening is only affecting a very small slice of the island,” he said. In the last couple weeks, he said, five regular cruise ship stops have been cancelled. When those visitors don’t come, he has to cancel his tours.
Until the eruption, tourism on Hawaii was growing. In 2017, the 1.7 million people visited “The Big Island” and spent 14% more than the year before, according to Visitors Bureau statistics.
Now, the future looks uncertain – volcanologists have no ideas when the eruption might end. Arnott said the island has to adjust. “We need to find different ways for people to visit,” he said.
Allen Hartvigsen, the general manager at the popular Hilo Coffee Mill, is one of those trying to adjust. Since the eruption and the drop off in tourism, especially from cruise ships, Hartvigsen has had to cut employee hours by 60%. In the past few days, he’s gone door-to-door trying to drum up business, asking local businesses if they’ll carry his coffee. “I’m just walking into stores the old fashioned way, doing cold calls and shaking hands like I used to 30 years ago,” he said. In the meantime, he’s trying not to lay any of his employees off, and hoping that visitors return.
“We’re receiving phone calls every hour from families that are cancelling their Hawaii vacations or are considering it,” said Jason Cohn, the vice-president of Sales and Marketing for Hawaii Forest & Trail, a tour guide company. He said that so far his company is expecting a 30% decrease in revenue.
“It’s a shame because other parts of the island have been absolutely beautiful these past couple of days, and not to mention safe places to view the incredible activity that’s happening from afar.”
In Pahoa, near the heart of volcanic action, the highway is often clogged with cars. But the bohemian downtown remains dismally quiet, according to Amedeo Markoff, a business owner and board member of the Pahoa Mainstreet Association.
“If this goes on,” he said, “there is going to be a second disaster: an economic one.”
Markoff said he was unhappy with a statement given by Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, last week in which he asked visitors and residents to “stay out of Puna and Pahoa”.
“If what he’s saying is true, and it’s dangerous to be here, then we should evacuate,” Markoff said. “But we’re still here. There’s a misconception that Pahoa is dangerous right now, but we’re used to lava and we know how to deal with it.”
Recently, the air has also become a concern, with the Hilo medical center seeing a moderate increase in the number of people coming with symptoms related to volcanic smog and haze, which can begin with dry eyes or a scratchy throat.
Rebekah Blakey, 31, of Los Angeles, and her sister arrived on Hawaii on 17 May, the same day that Kilauea sent an ash plume 30,000 feet in the air. They rebooked accommodations in the north of the island, but said they did occasionally feel effects from from the volcanic smog.
“Our eyes have been a bit watery,” she said, “and on certain days, we didn’t feel great”.
It is this simple remark that is reaching people all over the world, and giving them reason to cancel their trips.
Then too, there's politics. Hawaii went for Hillary Clinton in a huge way (being islanders so far from civilization, they're not too bright) and the people on the islands are not only unfriendly towards Trump voters, some of them are outright BANNING Trump voters from service!
Café 8 ½, an Italian restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii decided to take a stand against Trump supporters. The cafe’s owners posted a sign on their restaurant’s front door that read, “If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.”
Unsurprisingly, the restaurant is now facing the wrath of Trump supporters, especially across the internet. Hundreds of Trump supporters took to Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and even Google images to pan the restaurant, many of them giving the establishment 1-star reviews along with commentary like, “The world does not need people like YOU. Where the hell is your democrat values?” [sic] and “You will be out of business this time next year, and America will be a better place. #Trump2020.”
Hawaii seems to be slow on the uptake when it comes to foolishly mixing business and politics. One would think the National Football League's economic disaster would have been a heads-up to Hawaiians.
NFL Football players began misusing their televised games to insult Americans by protesting during playing of the National Anthem. Instead of standing respectfully, players "took a knee."
This insulted Americans in their own living rooms by forcing viewers to pay attention to the (almost intellectually retarded) football player's protest. Americans responded by canceling TV sports subscriptions, tearing-up Season Tickets and halting the purchase of game day tickets nationwide.
NFL revenues utterly plummeted.
When NFL Owners realized their players were putting the league in danger of Bankruptcy, they changed the operational rules to put a halt to the on-field protests.
Whether the NFL recovers remains to be seen.
Whether Hawaii recovers depends not just on the volcano, but on the attitude of islanders. If they keep insulting the 50%+ of the country who voted for President Trump, Hawaii will soon find itself broke.
The election happened and Trump won, fair and square. It is long past time for Hillary supporters to shut up and move on.