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Hawaii is still open for business, tourism officials say

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    Amedeo Markoff, owner of Puna Gallery and Gift Emporium, talks on a cell phone outside his shop in Puna, Hawaii island. As lava and earthquakes continue, more and more residents in the Puna district are being urged to be prepared to evacuate.

Hawaii tourism officials want the world to know that heightened volcanic activity is limited to portions of the east and south sides of Hawaii island and most of the rest of the state, including other parts of Hawaii island, are open for business.

All of Leilani Estates subdivision on Hawaii island remained closed today due to hazardous air quality and unstable lava conditions. A magnitude-6.9 earthquake rocked East Hawaii this afternoon causing additional closures, including all of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The quake, which was Hawaii’s largest since 1975, was centered about 10 miles southwest of Leilani Estates.

Kilauea, which has been an active volcano since 1983, has long been one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions. But visitors should be aware that this week’s increase in volcanic activity has resulted in a no-fly zone over Kilauea.

The earthquake also has resulted in the late afternoon closure of the entire Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, including the Kahuku unit in the southern Ka’u district. The Department of Land and Natural Resources also has closed Lava Tree State Monument and Mackenzie State Recreation Area until further notice. Gates to these parks are locked and closure signs posted.

Still, Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state agency responsible for marketing Hawaii tourism, said most of Hawaii is still accessible to tourists. HTA said Hawaii island’s west side, where Kona and the Kohala Coast are located, is more than 100 miles away from where the lava flow is occurring and is shielded by the Maunakea and Maunaloa mountain ranges. Tourism resorts located on Oahu and Kauai, and in Maui County, are located even greater distances from Kilauea volcano.

“We have heard from people around the world concerned about Hawaii’s welfare and want to reassure everyone that this is limited to a remote region on the slopes of Kilauea volcano. Everywhere else in the Hawaiian Islands is not affected,” Hawaii Governor David Ige said in a statement.

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, reassured travelers that flights haven’t been impacted by the Kilauea volcano and the “area where lava is coming to the surface is very far from resort areas throughout the Hawaiian Islands where visitor accommodations are located.”

“Travelers can enjoy their vacation experience in the Hawaiian Islands to the fullest, with the only word of caution being that they stay out of areas closed to the public for their own safety,” Szigeti said.

For the latest updates on the volcanic activity, please check the following websites:

Hawaii County Civil Defense:

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory:

Travelers planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands who have questions should call 1-800-GOHAWAII (1-800-464-2924).

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