VOLCANO — Tourism in Volcano town on the Big Island has been picking up slowly since Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reopened in September.
Business is a far cry from the booming days before the park closed in May amid explosive eruptions, earthquakes and the collapse of Kilauea volcano’s summit crater, said Pua Norris, the head innkeeper at Volcano Village Lodge, a bed-and-breakfast.
“Some days are a bit bigger than others,” Kendall Blakely, assistant manager at Volcano Winery, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Business is generally “hit-or-miss,” Blakely said.
Several business managers said a lack of lava at the summit crater is one reason.
“There’s no visible lava now, there’s no glow,” said Janet Coney, general manager of Kilauea Lodge. “So we’re not seeing as many evening visitors.”
The national park is normally the most-visited tourist destination in the state. But it closed for four months during as Kilauea’s eruption entered an explosive phase.
Bruce Taylor, deputy director of Kilauea Military Camp, which lies within the park, said the park and the island need to develop a new marketing strategy now that no active lava can be seen.
Ira Ono, president of tourism advocacy group Experience Volcano, said he doesn’t think the lack of lava at the summit will harm visitor numbers in the long term.
“I just don’t think there’s enough publicity that the park’s open yet,” Ono said.
Ono said that, in his experience, the lack of lava has not interfered with visitors’ enjoyment of the park, saying that the view of the crater, the trails and the steam vents are suitably “epic” to provide an incentive to visit.