Hotspot volcanoes

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park sees largest drop in attendance since 1966

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / [email protected] / 2019

    Visitors try to get a glimpse of Halemaumau Crater through the haze at the Steaming Bluff Viewpoint in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Visitor arrivals at
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park fell about 57% as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on tourism statewide.

The park reported last week that only 589,775 people visited Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes in 2020, up from 1,368,376 visitors in 2019. The number of arrivals was the worst in the park since 1966, when there were had 607,600 visitors.

The best year to visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park since 1921 was 2017, when 2,016,702 visitors came. The challenges of the Kilauea volcano eruption contributed to a drop in visits to 1,116,891 in 2018.

Park officials said visits before the pandemic were up 2% from 2019, based on slight increases in January and February 2020.

Government restrictions related to COVID-19 and fear of travel have hampered nearly all of the National Park Service’s operations. Hawaii Park, along with 66 other national parks, have been closed for two months or more. While the park has mostly reopened, only 222,240 visitors came in January, down 19.9% ​​from the same month in 2020.

“Park staff continue to work hard to ensure that the Hawai’i Volcanoes remain a safe place for our community and visitors to recreate outdoors, and a safe place to work, implementing and monitoring. federal and local public health guidelines during this pandemic, ”Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Director Rhonda Loh said in a statement. “Currently, almost all of the backcountry trails and areas that were open before the pandemic are open again. We continue to urge everyone to responsibly recreate and maintain physical distance and small group size, wear masks, and disinfect their hands frequently. “

While Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has mostly reopened, new security measures are needed. Visitors should wear masks in all NPS buildings and on federally managed land when physical distance cannot be maintained.