As the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii continues to erupt, spewing lava and emitting sulfur dioxide, the Big Island is seeing millions of dollars in losses as tourists steer clear.
Some cruise ships have even decided not to go into port on the island, with a handful even refusing to land on Kona, which is about 100 miles away from the volcano.
"The volcano isn't just our No. 1 attraction, it's the state's No. 1 attraction," Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, told CNN. He noted that when volcano tourism stops, it has a direct impact on spending across the island.
"This is the first leak we're seeing out of the bucket," he told The Associated Press.
Since Kilauea began erupting, about 2,000 people have been evacuated, lava has destroyed more than 40 structures — including about two dozen homes — and the eruptions have opened 20 vents into the ground, according to The Associated Press.
Bookings for tours and activities on the island are down 50 percent compared to past years, and the island's tourism board estimates about $5 million worth of cancellations from May through July, The Associated Press reported.
Hotels and businesses are reporting a 15 to 50 percent decrease in bookings for June, July and August, according to CNN.
Birch told the station that some bed-and-breakfasts have also had to shut down and refund guests tens of thousands of dollars as a result of the eruption.
CNN estimates that the tourism industry lost about $1.5 million in the first week after the eruption on May 3, though the number only includes hoteliers and activity businesses who responded to a poll — and they only represent about 15 percent of the industry.
Birch told USA Today that the damage is in a small area and did not impact the entire island.
"It's a severe impact to a very, very small part of the population," he said. The closest resort areas — in Kona and the Kohala Coast — are more than 100 miles away from the volcano, reported USA Today.
Most of Hawaii's destinations, restaurants and hotels are unaffected by the volcanic activity, with the exception of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park — home to Kilauea — which is closed to visitors, according to USA Today. Authorities have also closed some vacation rentals near the lava flow to limit the number of potential evacuees and to stretch the community's water supply.
Plane flights to Hawaii are largely unaffected and operating normally, though a number of airlines have waived change fees for flights to the state, USA Today reported.
On Monday, Hawaii County Civil Defense issued a warning about sulfur dioxide gas emitting from vents formed by the volcano. The warnings apply to an area near the southeast section of the Lanipuna Gardens neighborhood and surrounding farm lots, The Associated Press reported.
A new volcanic fissure also opened up on Monday in the Lanipuna Gardens subdivision, which has already been evacuated, the Associated Press reported.
Geologists warn that Kilauea could see explosive activity that could generate large ash clouds; the peak has already seen smaller-scale bursts.
"We are looking at the possibility of a steam-driven eruption at the summit," volcanologist Janine Krippner told National Geographic. She added that those kinds of eruptions aren't as large as magma-driven eruptions that officials see at volcanoes like Mount St. Helens.