The Kilauea volcano that began erupting more than three weeks ago continues to spew lava, ash and toxic gas on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Massive lava flows have scorched everything in its path, forcing the evacuations of more than 2,000 residents and already destroying several homes. The National Guard, scientists and residents can only stand by and monitor the slow and devastating destruction.
The volcano eruption on Hawaii’s Big Island is driving away some tourists from the affected area, but the rest of the island is “open for business,” Gov. David Ige told CNBC on Tuesday.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a popular tourist destination, has been shut down since the Kilauea volcano began spewing lava and toxic gases earlier this month.
“The actual area of the eruption is a very, very small portion of Hawaii Island. Less than 1 percent of the land mass is actually impacted,” Ige said on “Closing Bell.”
For the rest of the island, “visitor arrivals there are still strong,” he added.
Tourism is the Big Island’s largest industry. However, some vacationers are now not making the trip.
Both Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean have cancelled stops at Hilo, the Big Island’s port. And tourism authorities said summer bookings for hotels on the island have fallen almost 50 percent since the eruption started on May 3.
Meanwhile, the closure of the national park is costing the island $166 million, the National Park Service said on Monday.
The lost revenue rises to $222 million when some 2,000 jobs indirectly impacted by park tourists are included, according to a park service report.
Ige also stressed the rest of the island chain is still seeing strong visitor arrivals.
“Hawaii is still the destination. The rest of the islands are unaffected by what’s happening at Kilauea.”