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Big Island Visitors Bureau Hawai’i Island – (Mar. 12, 2011)

Hawai’i Island, especially the Kona  District, sustained some damage from the tsunami generated by  an earthquake near Japan, but impact on visitors will be  minimal, tourism officials said. On Fri., Mar. 11, a  tsunami hit Hawai’i  following a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake near the east  coast of Honshu, Japan. Some hotels and businesses along the  Kona and Kohala coasts received significant damage and were  flooded with sea water and debris, but many are up and running  as they assess the aftermath. “It’s business as  almost-usual,” said George Applegate, Executive Director of  the Big Island Visitors Bureau. “We had plenty of advance  warning from our government agencies, and we were able to  coordinate and prepare for the worst. What can be damaging for  visitors is bad information,” he said. For instance, King  Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on Ali’i Drive in Kailua Village is open  contrary to some reports, and sustained no damage to guest  rooms. The hotel’s website stated:  “The  rooms were untouched by the water. Some of our guests are  choosing to stay at the hotel, since only the public areas  have been affected, however, we are happy to work with our  guests to relocate elsewhere, if desired.” General Manager Jak Hu  said most guests are opting to stay put, and that Billfish Bar  will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner starting Sunday.

The popular Kona  Brewers Festival is on today, and is relocated across the  street to Kona Brewing Company. Despite erroneous  reports and headlines that Kailua Pier was “condemned,” by the  U.S. Coast Guard (which does not have the authority to condemn  the pier) some boat charters are operating. Maggie Brown,  owner of Body Glove cruises, said her company is running whale  watches and historical cruises today. She canceled snorkel  trips only because of poor visibility caused by swirling  surges and waves that have now subsided. “This town is pretty  resilient. We’re all willing to go the extra mile to make  things happen,” Brown said. The National Park  Service reports that Pu’uhonua o Hinaunau National Historical Park  is closed indefinitely as park officials assess damage there.  Kaloko-Honokihau National  Park is open, but the unimproved road that leads to Kaloko  Fishpond is closed. Hulihe’e  Palace is also temporarily closed due to flooding in the  basement, but the artifacts were successfully relocated.   On the Kohala Coast,  the Four Seasons Resort Hualilai will remain closed as its  staff surveys tsunami damage. Ciro Tacinelli, Director of  Marketing, said all guests and employees are safe and sound,  and that guests have been relocated. The resort is calling  those scheduled to arrive through Tuesday to inform them of  the situation. There were no deaths or  serious injuries reported as a result of Friday’s tsunami. All  airports are open and flights are on time, and nearly all  roads, including Ali’i Drive  in Kailua Village, are now open. “Overall, Hawai’i Island escaped with minimal  damage,” said George Applegate. “The best way to help us is to  come visit and enjoy all be have to offer, which is an  inspiring experience and vacation. We send our aloha and  heartfelt sympathy to the people of Japan, and to everyone who  sustained losses due to the earthquake and tsunami,” he said.

Special note to media: The Big Island Visitors Bureau  (BIVB) recognizes the use of the ‘okina ['] or glottal stop,  one of the eight consonants of the modern Hawaiian language;  and the kahaki [?] or macron (e.g., in place names of Hawai’i  such as Kilauea). However, BIVB respects the individual use of  these markings for names of organizations and  businesses.

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