Maui mayor asks airlines to send fewer visitors to the Hawaiian island

Jul 5, 2021

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We see it everywhere — the return to travel has begun and the world doesn’t seem to be ready. Hotels and airports are understaffed, putting added stress on already thin resources. The TSA is seeing record numbers of travelers through security checkpoints at airports across the country. And let’s not get into the rental car shortage again.

Now, Hawaii News Now reports that the mayor of one of the most popular vacation destinations is asking airlines to send fewer visitors. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino cites over-congestion at the airports, beaches and popular tourist destinations like the Road to Hana as grounds for his request. The island has not had enough time to prepare, he says, and in turn, those that work in tourism are suffering and unable to provide a high quality of customer service. He added that overcrowding at beaches is beginning to negatively affect the quality of life of Maui residents.

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At least one Maui County Council Member, Kelly King, supports the mayor. She noted there are so many cars on the Road to Hana and pulled over on the side of the road that it could become a problem if there is an emergency.

Colorful road sign along the Road to Hana
(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

TPG’s Zach Honig was in Maui recently and noted he didn’t feel it was any more crowded than his past visits to the Hawaiian island. However, he did find some tourist spots like Wailea and Lahaina more crowded than his last pre-pandemic visit.

Related: What it’s like to visit Maui with eased COVID-19 restrictions

Photo of Hana-Maui Resort in Maui
(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Honig even noted that Hyatt’s Hana-Maui Resort had rooms available for last-minute bookings.

Related: 26 Maui hotels you can book with points

Not everyone agrees with the mayor, though. For example, airline industry expert Peter Forman said that capping the number of arriving passengers might increase the cost of flights. And this would affect Maui residents as well as tourists. Plus, Forman noted that the mayor doesn’t have the authority to request that airlines decrease capacity to the island.

Mayor Victorino has gone so far as to meet with state airport officials. And he plans to speak about his plan to reduce passenger traffic during a news conference on Tuesday. So, stay tuned to see whether it may become more difficult or expensive to snag a ticket to Maui.

Featured image courtesy of The Westin Maui.

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