MAUI — The convention center and trade show industry in Hawaii geared up amid and following the wildfires on Maui to support evacuees, provide relief and give donations to recovery efforts.
The Hawaii Convention Center was set up as a shelter for those fleeing the fires. Located in the convention center was an assistance center, which has since been moved to Keehi Lagoon Memorial. The assistance center, which operated in collaboration with the American Red Cross, aided nearly 300 people who were evacuated, and has been providing free food, water, showers, clothing and more.
“There were no other event facilities affected by the fires in Lahaina and Kula on the island of Maui,” Teri Orton, General Manager, Hawaii Convention Center, said. “However, group events and leisure travel to hotels on the West side of the island have been impacted. Visitors and vacationers have been discouraged from traveling to West Maui. Unfortunately, most of the hotels are located in Kā‘anapali, which is just past Lahaina. The hotels in Kā‘anapali are now being used to house displaced residents and other agencies helping with the recovery efforts. I do want to note that on the other side of the island of Maui in Wailea there are hotels still open for business. However, travel to the West side of the island is only open to residents, employees and agencies helping with the recovery efforts.”
Along with the convention center, trade show organizers that hold shows in Hawaii are lending their support to the affected community. The Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) Hawaii Chapter donated $5,000 to the Maui Food Bank following the fires.
“Logistics, and getting help to the islands, is complicated by our geographic location, so the local community is doing everything we can to assist. In Hawaii, no matter what island you live on, all are “neighbors” and part of the same community,” said Cynthia Pacheco, AFCEA Hawaii Chapter Representative. “TechNet Indo-Pacific, held November 7-9 in Honolulu, will continue as planned. The annual event provides the funding for all the chapter programs, including its STEM scholarships and grants. It is more important than ever to host the event so that we can continue our mission to help our students and communities.”
Additionally, AFCEA International headquarters is sending $2,500 to the AFCEA Hawaii chapter to support the effort, said AFCEA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, U.S. Army (Ret.). “We also will start a campaign inviting our other chapters and global members to donate to the Natural Disaster Relief Fund – AFCEA Educational Foundation. These monies will be directed to the AFCEA Hawaii Chapter to then be used to support the Maui efforts in rebuilding the schools, providing school supplies and other services needed,” Lawrence said.
ASM Global, the venue management company of the HCC, is also supporting relief and recovery efforts.
“ASM Global is making a donation to Counsel for Native Hawaiian Advancement, who is a contractor for Hawai‘i Tourism Authority handling destination management. The funds raised will be used to support recovery efforts for the residents of Maui,” Orton said.
On Aug. 8, wildfires broke out in Hawaii, predominately in Maui. The wildfires on Hawaii Island are now contained, while the burning in Maui is 85% contained in Lahaina and 60% contained in upcountry/Kula, as of Aug. 15 according to the County of Maui.