Maui hotel occupancy took a healthy jump in March to 78.7 percent, according to the Flash Report from Hospitality Advisors released Wednesday.
It had been 72.2 percent in March 2010.
All islands reported good gains, and the statewide average rose from 70.4 to 75.2 percent.
Portland, Ore., resident Paul O’Connor zips down Haleakala Highway in Kula on Wednesday. Maui hotel occupancy rates were up to 78.7 percent in March, according to Hospitality Advisors.
The Maui News MATTHEW THAYER photo
Hospitality Advisors provided a daily chart for Oahu - something it does not usually do - to show the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Up to that point, and for one more day, rates had been running from 6 to almost 10 percent ahead of March 2010 on most days. By March 13, occupancy rates turned negative and were down as much as 7 percent on March 20 and 27. They then returned to positive and were running about 5 percent ahead of the corresponding date the year before by the end of the month.
"Although the impact of the loss in the Japanese market was immediately felt," reported Hospitality Advisors, "the strength in the U.S. and Canada markets nonetheless helped Oahu achieve the highest occupancy among the islands in March at 79.2 percent."
For the first three months of the year, room revenue in the islands was up 18.7 percent to $745.8 million, but that was still far behind the record first-quarter revenue of $864.9 million in 2008. The 2011 revenue figure was close to the first quarter of 2005, which was $750 million, but the turmoil in the visitor industry has sent the revenue figure in wild swings since. Last year's $628.3 million was the lowest since 2005.
While Oahu hotels suffered from the tsunami, Maui's possibly gained. Two luxury properties in west Hawaii were closed by wave damage, and Hospitality Advisors said Maui luxury properties "likely benefited from displaced demand."
When comparing March with the same month in 2010, Maui luxury properties boosted their average daily rate by more than $40 to $379, but other classes of lodging on Maui also were able to boost their rack rates proportionately in March.
The islandwide average rate rose from $232 to $266 ($432 in Wailea).
Combined with the jump in nights sold, the key revenue per available room number for Maui island in March zoomed from $168 to $209.
The Big Island showed even more negative effects from the events in Japan in March than Oahu did.
Although Hawaii island's overall occupancy rose from 57.5 to 63.4 percent, the biggest proportional gain of any island, rack rates were pulled down $10 to $172 (and down by almost $25 to $231 on the Kohala Coast). As a result, the island's revenue per available room amount barely grew, up $5 to $109.
Despite the dip in Japanese visits to Waikiki in the middle of the month, Oahu rack rates overall rose $7 to $156 in March, and room revenue gained $15 to $124.
Kauai fell in between. March occupancy went up from 56.1 to 62.2 percent, and rack rates were up $13 to $201. Room revenue was up $20 to $125.
For the first quarter, Maui occupancy rates are up from 72.1 to 78.3 percent, and average room rates are up almost $24 to $256. Room revenue has risen from $168 to $201.
The statewide quarterly gains are: occupancy up from 70.6 to 77 percent; average rates up $15 to $191; and room revenue up $23 to $147.
Hospitality Advisors President Joseph Toy said that the recovery of Japan will take a long time.
"Given the close cultural ties between Hawaii and Japan, the impacts throughout the state are both emotional as well as economic," he said.
More than 1.2 million Japanese visited Hawaii last year.
* Harry Eagar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.