Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is still erupting and has been since May 3, as lava continues to dominate the Big Island with lava from “fissure 8” wiping out scores of homes in Kapoho.

But tour operators who have operated on Hawaii’s Big Island for years have voiced their apprehension at running tours to the volcano as people try to rebuild a life amid the destruction.

Shane Turpin has taken tourists on boat rides to see lava oozing down Kilauea’ slopes and into the Pacific Ocean several miles away for years. 

However, when the molten rock burned down his and his neighbour’s houses after the volcano erupted in May, he briefly stopped the tours.

The 39-year-old, who runs Lava Ocean Tours from Hilo, said: “When the houses on the coastline were burning, we took those ships off.

“Those were my neighbours, I actually lived there.”

Despite his reluctance, he had to go back to work to cater to the increase in demand from tourists to witness the latest eruption.

He said: “Life always provides different opportunities; you either accept things and go forward with them or you don’t.”

Hawaii volcano eruption:

Hawaii volcano eruption: Kilauea has been erupting since May 3

“Lava tourism” is now on the up on the Big Island and helicopter and boat operators are trying to please tourists and show respect for thousands of local who have lost homes or been evacuated.

Visitors numbers spike each time Kilauea has erupted as the volcano send a river of lava towards the ocean.

Arrivals to the Big Island fell by 1.6 percent in May year-on-year after the eruption, after several cruise ships cancelled port calls at Hilo and Kona, the island’s two main cities, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said.

However, tourists spending has increased by 3.3 percent to $173.9 million in May.

Hawaii volcano eruption:

Hawaii volcano eruption: Fissure 8 continues to erupt and cause havoc for residents

Residents have mixed feeling about noisy helicopters which fly over communities devastated by the volcano, like Leilani Estates and Kapoho Vacationland, which lost hundreds of homes. 

Rob Guzman, an evacuee and guesthouse operator, said: “They have helicopters starting as early as six in the morning and they go al day.

“At the same time, it’s putting more money into the local economy when we’ve been hit very hard.”

Tourists on helicopter tours will see a 55 metre tall lava geyser, an eight-mile river of molten rock from fissure eight cascading toward the sea and a newly made volcanic wasteland pockmarked with the remains of over 650 homes.

Hawaii volcano eruption:

Tour operators say they have mixed feelings over taking tourists to devastated areas of the island

Seattle tourist Steve Gaffin said: “I feel sorry for all the people who’ve lost their homes.

But he added: “Why would you want to miss this? This is exciting!” 

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