August 17, 2023, MĀʻALAEA, MAUI, HI – Maui Ocean Center is open and ready to welcome back kamaʻāina and visitors seeking comfort following last week’s devastating wildfires. The park — which closed briefly last week as employees helped those displaced by the fires — is now open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Mahalo for everyone’s support, actions and donations to those who suffered so much here on Maui,” said Tapani Vuori, general manager of Maui Ocean Center. “Our community is now shifting from response mode to recovery mode. As we focus on the displaced, we are now also looking at the broader Maui community. An employed Maui is a resilient Maui. Many of our local businesses depend on the visitor community, and as that dwindles, the hardships on our island multiply. We need the resources to manage the long-term efforts it will take to restore our island community.”
At the onset of the tragedy, many messages sent in pain, need, and devastation have been, at times, mixed regarding the visitor economy. The island is now rallying around maintaining a vibrant Maui economy. As Hawai‘i Gov. Josh Green stated, “… decisions we made can affect everyone across the islands. So what we’re saying now is travel should not be to West Maui. But the other parts of Maui are safe.” While Lāhainā remains out of bounds, properties in Napili, Kaanapali, and Kapalua just to North are helping with housing the displaced and will, at some point, be able to open their doors to hire back the residents of Maui.
“Maui welcomes respectful, thoughtful tourism,” Vuori added. “While we request that you respect Lāhainā and its residents by giving them the space and resources they require, we welcome you to visit the rest of our island. The island is large and diverse, with many places far from the devastation our community is addressing.”
For those who wish to support the island financially, Maui Ocean Center endorses Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund: https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong. Guests may also round up their entrance and in-park purchases to help support efforts.
Additionally, Maui Ocean Center continues to collect donations of food, family items, and toiletries at the park’s front gate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through this Sunday, Aug. 20.