Hawaii keen to reinstate lava tourism

Volcano eruptions are always been the center of attraction for tourists in the Hawaii Islands. However the recent eruption of the Kilauea volcano has caused slowdown in the tourist inflow in the region. This is followed by the mandatory evacuation and strict advisory of the authorities at the volcano eruption site.

The risk of going to the volcano eruption site has come in to attention of the authorities this week when lava flowing into the ocean caused an explosion that sent a hot rock crashing through a touring boat’s roof. Though there were no causalities, tourists had minor injuries and everyone become panic.

As per Diane Ley, Hawaii County’s director of research and development, they have been working on setting up a safe lava viewing site for nearly two months, consulting with federal scientists and the county’s civil defense administrator.

“The challenge is to find a site that is safe from volcanic hazards, emissions and can afford the ability for large numbers to be able to come in and view,” she said.

Merchants, tour guides and others on the island, whose life is directly connected with the number of people visiting the place, are pressurizing the authorities to loosen the advisory.

Downtown Pahoa, a few miles from volcano eruption, is one of the most affected areas. This small town serves as a gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is considered the state’s most popular tourist attraction, which remains closed until further notice due the danger of volcanic eruption.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman said the county needs to urgently set up a lava viewing site to bring visitors back to Pahoa.

Currently, only helicopter and boat-tour passengers can see the lava eruption site which cannot be afforded by the common people. Thus the demand for setting up a safe lava viewing site is mounting from all sides.

Kilauea, which has been erupting incessantly for about thirty five years, has been a center of attraction in Hawaii. As per records almost five thousand people visited the site during last May. However, following the government restrictions, the number of tourists is decreasing day by day.

Restaurants and shops in Pahoa have 50 to 90 per cent decline in their business said Matthew Purvis, president of the Mainstreet Pahoa Association. This is partially because many residents have lost their homes and moved to other places; but the significant reason is the fall in tourist inflow. The worst-hit are small business groups like gift shops, restaurants, and bakeries, whose business is directly connected to the tourist inflow.