Travel still safe to Hawaii and U.S. West coast

Despite fears over effects of the recent Japanese nuclear power plant disaster, authorities pronounced travel still safe to Hawaii and the U.S. west coast. Stories of a giant cloud of nuclear waste on the way to cripple the United States and an e-mail predicting acid rain turned out to be a hoax. It is almost business-as-usual for travelers, with a few exceptions to be aware of.

“We get a lot of calls from people about possible dangers,” Cathy Brooks of CruiseOne told “We try to assure them it’s safe to travel.”

The U.S Department of State advised U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the plant in Japan to evacuate the area or to take shelter indoors, if safe evacuation was not practical. The U.S. Government also made available potassium iodide (KI) pills as a precautionary measure for American personnel and dependents residing in Japan at the time of the incident.

Earlier this month the Los Angeles Times reported that a small amount of radiation was headed for California but that health risks were not a concern. To help Americans understand their radiation-related health risks, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the American Thyroid Association (ATA), The Endocrine Society and the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) issued a joint statement which noted that “current estimates indicate there will not be a hazardous level of radiation reaching the United States from this accident” and added “there is not a radiation emergency in the United States or its territories”.

Indeed, nuclear authorities gave the U.S. West coast and Hawaii a clean bill of health, clearing away the concerns of travelers.

“I want to reassure residents and visitors that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the highest authority on radiation in the nation, has indicated Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to Hawaii.” Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie told the Hawaii Reporter.

That’s not to say everything is operating normally in Hawaii though. Several resorts and tourist destinations were damaged by the tsunami event but most are open.

Two resorts that remain closed are Four Seasons Resort Hualālai, which plans to reopen on April 30, and iconic Kona Village Resort which will remain closed for an extended period of time due to the significant structural and property damage it sustained

Kailua Pier was deemed structurally sound after the event, and all charters are operating as usual. Norwegian Cruise Lines Pride of America, the year-round cruise ship servicing Hawaii, stopped in Kona last week as planned.

King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is also open, and guest rooms were not damaged. However, the lu’au area, ground floor public areas including the lobby and Kona Beach Restaurant, were flooded by seawater, sand and debris. Cleanup efforts are well underway, and several retail stores have reopened.

“Our state and county monitoring systems have not detected any increase in radiation levels, and based on all available information, state and federal experts do not anticipate any risk of harmful radiation exposure to our islands. We are open for business. Hawai’i continues to be the world’s paradise.” added Governor Abercrombie.

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Flickr photo by Merfarm

Hawaii back in business, just how much uncertain

After last week’s tsunami event and resulting disruptions kept tourists, hotels and a cruise ship from normal island life, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie declared all “back in business” after a tour of the Big island and Maui.

“We can come back quick,” Abercrombie said during a day-long inspection of the islands adding “We’re back in business. I don’t want information getting out to the mainland that we’re not open for business or that Hawaii is shut off.”
Hotels are open and have plenty of tourists. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America returned after canceling last week’s call in Kailua-Kona on the island’s the west coast. Flights in and out of the islands are posting few delays. Still, while tourism is back in full swing, just how much there will be is uncertain.

Ongoing disruption of all things normal in Japan is a big concern in Hawaii. Japan is second only to the U.S. mainland in the number of visitors each year.

“It’s a safe and wonderful place to visit. If all goes well, and that remains to be seen of course, but if all goes well we do think we can come through this in a matter or weeks and not months,” said Lt. Governor Brian Schatz,

“In California, too, right now, we’re seeing some cancelations. But at the same time when people start to realize there isn’t much of a danger in coming to Hawaii, we may see the snap back in tourism,” said University of Hawaii at Manoa Economics professor Sumner LaCroix to