Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closure affecting businesses and neighboring community

KHON2 is learning the government shutdown is already hurting local businesses in and around the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The park sees hundreds of visitors from all over the world every day.

It’s one of the main attractions on the island of Hawaii, so it’s a big blow to the community that depends on the foot traffic.

Many travel just to see the captivating beauty of Kilauea.

But that experience has been squashed this weekend, especially for the Shotwell family who planned their day around this trip.

“I’m a photographer so I was really looking forward to getting some amazing shots of the lava and all that, so it’s a huge let down,” Shawna Shotwell said.

Guests at Volcano House and Kilauea Military Camp were told to pack up by Monday morning, forcing KHON2’s Elyssa Arevalo to cut her stay short.

“There was a line of cars and they were all getting turned around. There was a couple of park rangers at the front basically telling them sorry unless you’re a guest here staying at either the Volcano House or military camp you have to turn around,” Arevalo explained.

Even if they were guests and were able to get in to Volcano House or KMC, Arevalo said you couldn’t go anywhere and explore.

Friends of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park fundraise for the park and tell KHON2 they’re losing about a thousand dollars a day from this shutdown. Businesses in and around the park will most likely feel the pinch as well.

“From Naalehu the Punaluu Bake Shop all the way to Pahoa and in our area we got restaurants Thai Thai Restaurant inside the park we got Volcano House hotel…so it ripples throughout our community and this is one of the main visitor attractions when you come to the Hawaii Island,” said Friends of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Executive Director Elizabeth Fien.

So what happens to those who booked hotels at the park?

Arevalo tells us the Kilauea Military Camp is reimbursing her, so guests should double check the hotel policy for reimbursements.

On Oahu, if the shutdown continues, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will be able to remain open for at least another week.

The Pacific Historic Parks Non-profit Association says it will provide the funds necessary to keep those sites open until at least Friday, January 26.

The U.S.S. Bowfin Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum are also contributing financial help. Those sites are private organizations and are not affected by the shutdown.

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