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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reports an increase in visitors following latest eruption

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reports an increase in visitors following latest eruption

Every day the Kilauea Volcano is attracting thousands of people from around the world to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It's unusual to have so many visitors at this time of year.

October is usually a slower season when it comes to tourism in Hawaii. With Pele putting on a show, Jessica Ferracane with the National Park Service reports seeing at least 2,300 people at the park per day. As lava continues to flow and grow inside Halemaumau Crater, so does the number of people.

"There's definitely a steady volume of visitors coming in to see the eruption and visit the park," Ferracane said.

Ferracane says the busiest time at the park is between sunset and sunrise because everyone wants to see the amazing red-orange glow.

"When crowds of people gather there. They're supposed to be wearing masks. There's signs to wear a mask and to keep social distance. We're noticing a lot of people not wearing masks, and telling them to put it on," she said.

There is law enforcement on site, Ferracane says most people receive warnings but citations have also been issued. Another concern: illegal drone use and excessive speeding that's harming wild-life. Ferracane reports at least three endangered Hawaiian geese, known as the nene were struck and killed by vehicles.

"That's very likely from people speeding, these animals getting habituated to people feeding them so they get close to cars and people and that's a very deadly combo," Ferracane said.

While activity at the park increased, KITV4 spoke with some business owners who say they're not benefiting from the extra crowd. They say it's because visitors are just visiting the park and not surrounding neighborhoods. At Volcano Winery, however, they're seeing more visitors and fewer kamaaina.

"We're really glad to see Pele is back and showing off. Tourism is doing well. We're just trying to keep everyone safe and comfortable and obviously keep our doors open," Alyx Barnett, Volcano Winery marketing manager, said.

Barnett says because the winery is operating at limited capacity, it's best to make a reservation for the visit. 

If you are planning to visit the park, Ferracane recommends to check the national park's website for potential safety hazards or closures before going.

 

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