Amid ongoing recovery efforts in the wake of the devastating wildfires that plagued historic Lahaina in Western Maui, a native resident is speaking out against tourists who have flocked to the area to enjoy leisure activities. Courtney Lazo, a 10th generation Maui local, expressed her frustration with vacationers snapping photos and snorkeling near the still-recovering town, where authorities are working tirelessly to recover bodies and locate missing individuals.
Lazo emphasized the insensitive timing of tourists’ actions, stating that it feels like a “slap in the face” to the grieving community. Along with her family, she has erected a sign on the road to Lahaina that reads, “Tourist Keep Out,” as a plea for respect and understanding.
Another member of the community, Vance Dizon, who survived the wildfires, has set up a makeshift checkpoint on the outskirts of the neighborhood to discourage tourists from entering. Resources are currently limited, and Dizon believes that it is difficult to accept visitors when the community is still in need of support.
While some residents harbor longstanding bitterness toward tourists, Hawaii officials are urging visitors to contribute to the recovery efforts by returning to certain areas and supporting the local economy. Hawaii Governor Josh Green has encouraged travelers to come back, though he advises against visiting West Maui, including Lahaina. Returning residents and authorized emergency relief workers are the only ones who should be present in the region at the moment.
Acknowledging the economic importance of tourism for Maui, Lazo and her family still hope that tourists can show empathy and refrain from intruding upon their grieving process. Although they understand the value of tourism, their request is that visitors avoid Lahaina, allowing the community to heal and recover without further interruption.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Can tourists visit Maui at this time?
A: While tourists are encouraged to return to certain areas of Maui to support the economy and recovery efforts, it is advised to avoid West Maui, including Lahaina, until further notice.
Q: Are locals angry with tourists?
A: Some residents have expressed frustration with tourists who have engaged in leisure activities near the devastated areas, as it feels insensitive and disruptive during a time of grieving and recovery.
Q: How is the recovery process in Maui going?
A: Authorities and emergency relief workers are making significant efforts to recover bodies and locate missing individuals in the aftermath of the wildfires. The community is banding together to support each other during this challenging time.
Q: How important is tourism to Maui’s economy?
A: Tourism is a crucial economic factor for Maui, as it generates substantial revenue for local businesses and the community. However, during periods of recovery, it is important to strike a balance between economic stability and respecting the needs of those affected by the tragedy.