Hawaii: An Enchanting Tourist Destination Turned Desert

Hawaii, known as a ‘summer state,’ welcomes millions of visitors who come to vacation and enjoy the summer to the utmost. However, a wildfire calamity has recently occurred in this state, leaving the gorgeous land more forlorn than ever.

Wildfires in Hawaii, USA, killed hundreds of people, destroyed the ancient resort city of Lahaina, and forced tens of thousands of inhabitants and tourists to flee the island in August 2023.

Wildfire disaster in 2023: Heavy loss of human and property

Officially, this is the deadliest wildfire disaster to hit the United States in more than a century. More than 1,000 hectares of land were destroyed on the Hawaiian island of Maui, hundreds of people were killed, and thousands more went missing. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the restoration of Lahaina could cost billions of dollars.

Photo: AFP News

With the increasing number of wildfires that have destroyed the western United States in recent years, it has grown more difficult for people to cope with nature’s discomfort. Prior to then, the island had just experienced a period of acute drought, which had turned the flora into combustible dry fuel. The southern storm also produced constantly strong winds, which fueled fires all throughout the island.

Natural causes: A small part of the potential for wildfires

The amount of land used for farming and grazing in Hawaii has decreased dramatically over the last 50 years as a result of increased worldwide competitiveness and skyrocketing real estate costs. Previously used for agricultural, the area is now being developed for residential use. A lot of open space fosters the growth of exotic, combustible grass, which hastens the spread of forest fires. This means that an increasing number of people are shifting to unsafe places that are vulnerable to forest fires, coastal floods, and other natural disasters, compounding the consequences of natural disasters.

Photo: AP News

However, climate change may have also contributed to the disaster in Hawaii. As a result of the scorching heat and record-breaking high temperatures this summer, this area has seen multiple devastating and unusual wildfires. Human use of fossil fuels has resulted in greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather occurrences. This is the root of global warming.

Tackling catastrophes with human love

Despite the difficult circumstances, the people of Lahaina were able to acknowledge acts of kindness. The War Memorial Arena on the Hawaiian island of Maui is an example of how people came together to help those affected by the Lahaina wildfire and provide additional shelter for those who lost their houses. There was also a squad that assisted families in locating missing loved ones. Aid materials were also obtained in order to assist the fire victims. There were many volunteers willing to assist the people in whatever manner they could.

Photo: Reuters

With the overwhelming assistance of humanity, the situation quickly shifted. The act of assembling in a certain location for aid and care fosters trust and appreciation. 

Is Hawaii still a desirable vacation destination?

The Hawaii Tourism Authority advises that needless travel to West Maui is “strongly discouraged” until the end of August. Visitors who are in West Maui for unnecessary reasons have been forced to leave by the island. Many hotels in particular areas had temporarily ceased accepting reservations. Because several hotels still lack basic utilities, the Hawaii Tourism Authority urges tourists to wait “until the situation stabilizes” before attempting to call West Maui resorts to make adjustments to their reservations. Hotels on West Maui are currently housing evacuees, first responders, and their staff members and families.

Visitors planning to visit other parts of Maui, like as Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Wailea, and Makena, were encouraged to check with their hotel providers to ensure they could still be accommodated. It is recommended that vacation rental operators temporarily house displaced West Maui residents. As hundreds of displaced West Maui residents look for a place to live, the island’s conflict between tourism and affordable housing has heated up.

Flights from and to Hawaii

US airlines flying into Kahului Airport (OGG) on Maui have implemented flexible rebooking procedures for affected passengers. In this case, the US Department of Transportation established a webpage that linked to US airline laws about wildfires. Furthermore, Hawaiian Airlines has developed a Miama Maui Desk to enhance the amount of flights and assist individuals in leaving the island.

To accommodate relief supplies arriving on the island, one runway at Maui’s main airport, Kahului, has been designated exclusively for freight operations. The suspension will not affect commercial planes using the airport’s longer runway.

Hawaii today is nothing but desolation

Hawaii has changed from a resort paradise with a wonderful natural harbor called the world-famous Pearl Harbor, wonderful beaches such as Waikiki Beach, Haleakala Beach, Polihua Beach, and other must-see attractions such as Akaka Falls or Volcanoes National Park to a typical desert region with aridity.

Each area and relic in modern Hawaii appears to have its own tale, but they all indicate a fierce event that occurred here. There are no humans in Hawaii, only the breaking waves, as if calling out for a horrible end. Although the beings who once inhabited this place have practically departed, the sky remains a bright blue. Imagine a “dead” area with no inhabitants, burnt vegetation, and harsh weather to get a sense of the situation in Hawaii.

Photo: Freedom Destinations

It will be a long time before Hawaii regains its former prominence. In this area, the process of recovering and re-exploiting land is highly hard. In any case, Hawaii was and always will be an outstanding destination for travelers. Hawaii will undoubtedly return in a new, more contemporary, more lively form.

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