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Hawaii Volcano Continues to Impact the Travel Industry

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© Flickr PHOTO: Lava flow at Kilauea Volcano. (photo via Flickr/Jay Huang)

By Donald Wood, TravelPulse

As new fissures tear through the ground near Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, officials are considering additional evacuations that could impact travel to the popular tourist attraction.

One of the fissures opened up around 25 miles east of Kilauea’s summit and could result in the closure of an important exit route, Highway 132. There are an estimated 2,000 residents in the southeast area of Hawaii’s Big Island who would be potentially trapped by the closure.

Another possible route closure that could cause mass evacuations would be Highway 137, which Hawaii National Guard spokesman Jeff Hickman told Reuters would be a worst-case scenario.

Nearly 2,000 residents have evacuated the lower Puna district of the Big Island already, and the combination of noxious gas and lava on the ground has continued to create concerns about the safety of locals and tourists visiting the region.

Airlines serving Hawaii started waiving change fees for those scheduled to fly in or out of Hilo International and Kona International airports last week, but the dates for impacted flights continue to change.

Carriers such as American, Hawaiian and United are working closely with passengers and officials in Hawaii to accommodate for the ongoing eruption and have extended the waiver through May 20.

As for the cruise industry, a Norwegian Cruise Line representative told TravelPulse that its Pride of America ship will not call in Hilo on Tuesday and instead spend the day at sea. In addition, the vessel will not call in Kona on Wednesday, but instead, add an additional day in Maui and call in Lahaina.

“At Norwegian Cruise Line, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our top priority,” the cruise company said in a statement. “We have been closely monitoring the adverse conditions impacting the Big Island of Hawaii and are modifying the itinerary of Pride of America to ensure our guests have the best vacation experience possible.”

Last week, the eruption also caused Royal Caribbean to alter one of its scheduled sailings.

The tourism industry is feeling the impact of the volcano as well, with cancellations from May through July hitting at least $5 million, according to a statement from the island's tourism board executive director Ross Birch.

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Travel - U.S. Daily News: Hawaii Volcano Continues to Impact the Travel Industry
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