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Local Lahaina surfer Matty Schweitzer, brother of Zane and owner of Island Eye Productions, posted a scathing monologue on Instagram criticizing tourists for their actions following the tragic, early August wildfire in Lahaina, Maui.
Schweizer, a Lahaina born-and-raised big wave surfer who has also been the manager for Hawaii’s StandUp Paddle team, related how tourists are entering closed areas and conducting themselves in disrespectful manners among locals who are still recovering from the tragedy that resulted in the deaths of at least 97 people and caused the destruction of over 2,200 structures.
“Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of exactly what we were afraid of here with the tourists,” Schweizer said in his post. “There have been many occasions already with just unbelievably disrespectful tourists out here.”
“You know beaches here in Hawaii, for anybody that lost their home, beaches are a place of refuge…,” Schweitzer continued. “…Now we are seeing tourists coming to the beaches, absolutely disrespectful. I witnessed a group of about 14, 15 people… They were having a party, having a big bottle of Captain Morgan. They were pounding and blasting music. Dancing and yelling at Napili Bay. As we were right over to the side having a very serious conversation with some friends about what has just happened. We are seriously trying to process things over here and the mayor’s and the governor’s office are trying to convince us that the people want tourism back, that people are ok with this.”
It’s worth mentioning that the beach in reference, Napili Bay, is within a zone on West Maui that is supposed to be closed to tourism until October.
Schweitzer’s sentiments echo thousands who have signed a petition calling for the return of tourism to be pushed back to a later date.
However, tourists planning to visit Maui understandably can be confused by the mixed messages coming from the island. Some are begging for the return of tourism, others calling for it to end. What is lost in the messaging, at times, is that the majority of Maui is open and essentially unaffected for tourism. The Lahaina area, in west Maui, is what residents are calling for tourists to avoid.
When reached by phone call for further clarification on the protocol that visiting surfers should follow, Schweitzer explained the surfing and tourism situation from his point of view.
“There have been some swells and we haven’t seen people surfing,” said Schweitzer. “People aren’t ready for it. When you go paddle out everyone is going to see you. I don’t wanna say it’s disrespectful, but the barrier hasn’t been crossed yet. Even the locals aren’t ready to paddle out on a board just to cry. We aren’t even allowed back to our homes and businesses yet. It’s hard to see people coming back and having fun. The last few days have proven to me that we can’t trust tourists yet.”
“When it comes to surfing, go anywhere on the other side of the island,” Schweitzer added. “I got people from the rest of Maui pissed off at me because my posts are preventing tourists. I feel for the rest of the island. We want people to come to Maui, but Lahaina has one road in and one out, it’s like a little island, and when it comes to heavy tourists (in west Maui), at least for the next few months, it’s not the time.”
For the complete video and places to donate for Maui fire relief effort, Matty Schweitzer’s Instagram page is a solid reference.