Volcano has travelers reconsidering Hawaii trips

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hawaii’s tourism industry is losing millions of dollars as lava continues to pour from Kilauea volcano, but some travelers are seeing the eruption as an opportunity for cheaper travel.

Chasten Young, 25, of Grand Rapids planned to treat his grandmother to a Hawaiian getaway in June to celebrate her 66th birthday. Young, his mom, his grandmother and his aunt were all set to go. He told 24 Hour News 8 it was a symbol of gratitude for a woman who’s been the backbone of their family.

“My grandmother, she sacrifices everything in the world for her family,” Young said.

His family canceled their trip on Tuesday. Young said there were concerns about the volcano and whether the situation might worsen by June.

He said his mother, who lives in Delaware, has stayed up to date on travel conditions since they booked the trip last October.

“She’s been watching it,” he said. “She’s still sending me updates to this day.”

Just after they canceled their trip, he said, his mother noticed flights and hotel prices plummeting.

“The ticket prices that they have now, I could’ve bought two of them,” Young said.

He said he and his mother are now rethinking things. They may take advantage of the price dip and start planning again, especially since they got full refunds thanks to travel insurance.

Christian Allen of Popular Travel Agency in Grand Rapids said he always recommends buying travel insurance.

He also told 24 Hour News 8 that cheaper prices may be short-lived.

“‘Travel,’ ‘Hawaii,’ and ‘cheap’ never go together,” Allen said. “It’s one of the biggest traveling destinations in the world, but you might be able to pick up some good fares because of this.”

If someone has already a ticket and wants to cancel but didn’t buy travel insurance, there are more options.

“I do know that, United, Delta, (and) Alaska Airlines do have some waivers,” Allen explained.

He recommends that travelers contact their travel agent or airlines directly to check about waivers.

However, Allen said that there’s no need to cancel trips because of the eruption. Travelers who are worried can change which island they plan to visit or move to another part of the Big Island.

Volcano problems are only affecting about 10 square miles of the 4,000-square-mile destination. The closest resort is 100 miles from the volcanic activity, according to officials.

“If you’re going to Hawaii just to have a great vacation, go to a resort, get a motel, (or) get a tan, there’s a lot of Hawaii still to see,” Allen said.
As for Young, he said that even if his family doesn’t go in June, they will go some day.

“It’s (my grandmother’s) dream destination. I want to get her there,” Young said.

Two-thirds Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remained closed as of Monday, but the state’s tourism bureau is still welcoming guests to Big Island.

>>App users: Photos of the Kilauea eruption

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