Hawaii volcano eruption: 'There is no DOOMSDAY' businesses insist amid PLUMMETING tourism

Despite the localised impacts of the eruption and lava flows, which have covered an area of only 9.5 square miles, business owners have reported that some prospective tourists have cancelled their trips based on misconceptions.

Greg VanderLann, owner of UFO Parasail in Kailua-Kona, said: “It’s just the illusion that we are in a doomsday scenario out here and we’re not.

“You know if I watched the news and didn’t anything about geography I would probably cancel my trip to Hawaii too.”

Commenting on the economic impacts of the drop in tourism, he added: “Jobs are lost and we rely on tourism.

“That’s the biggest chunk of our industry out here — local families are struggling right now.”

He noted his company had witnessed a 35 percent drop in bookings since the end of May.

Morgan Suzuki, PR director for the Four Seasons Hualalai resort on Hawaii’s Big Island, added prospective tourists have been sending frantic questions about their chances of being hit by lava despite the resort being located on the other side of the island.

She said prospective guests only calm down “once we assure them the lava will not travel 100 miles to our resort”.

Many tourists have nevertheless decided to cancel their trips even to destinations far from the danger zone, which is threatening the island where tourism represents 30 percent of the economy.

Tour operators have witnessed a drop in bookings, and some companies have seen 30 percent losses for the start of the tourist season.

Jason Cohn, vice president of sales and marketing for Hawaii Forest and Trail, expressed his sympathy for those who had lost their properties, but warned of the economic impacts of a decline in tourism.

He said: “We all have our homes and properties so I don’t want to compare the two.

“But from an economic standpoint more damage has been done by misconceptions that have been perpetuated than by the volcano.”

Over 577 homes have been destroyed since the initial eruption, but many of these properties have been located in localised regions in the Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens, Vacationland and Kapoho Bay regions.

However there are signs tourism may be returning to normal after the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Pride of America became the first cruise ship to stop at the island since the eruption on June 12.

Entrepreneur Gary Marrow, who operates KapohoKine Adventures, also remained positive about the potential impacts of the eruption.

He said: “Our island is going to go nuts with tourism because everyone is going to want to come and see mother nature.

“This is how our world was created, it’s how all of our islands were created and it’s a magical amazing thing to see.”

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