After wildfires, Maui now needs tourists: ‘We’re in crisis mode’

Richie Olsten has been in Maui’s helicopter tour business for a half century, so long he’s developed a barometer for the tourism-dependent economy: rental cars parked at the island’s airport.

There are so many since wildfires killed at least 115 people in the historic town of Lahaina that Mr. Olsten is worried about a full-blown economic catastrophe. Restaurants and tour companies are laying off workers, and unemployment is surging.

State tourism officials, after initially urging travelers to stay away, are now asking them to come back, avoid the burn zone, and help Maui recover by spending their money. Airlines have started offering steep discounts, while some resorts have slashed room rates by 20% or are offering a fifth night free.