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Hurricane Lane impacted August tourism on Maui

Occupancies dipped as storm whipped up wind

Maui County hotel occupancy fell 4.1 percentage points in August, compared to 2017, according to a Hawai’i Tourism Authority report released Thursday that offered a statistical indication that Hurricane Lane dinged tourism.

Hurricane Lane veered away as it neared the islands, but tropical storm force winds whipped up a brush fire Aug. 24 that burned 1,500 acres in West Maui and damaged or destroyed more than 20 structures.

A second storm, Tropical Storm Olivia, passed over the West Maui Mountains and Lanai on Sept. 12, dumping heavy rains that flooded Honokohau Valley, Kahana and Waihee.

The authority’s Hawaii Hotel Performance Report was for August.

“August is typically a strong month for the hotel industry, but news coverage about Hurricane Lane heading straight at Hawaii and travelers being able to utilize airline cancellation fee waivers likely impacted results in the latter half of the month,” said Jennifer Chun, the authority’s tourism research director.

Occupancy in August was down statewide, to 78.3 percent, compared to a year ago. Chun noted, however, that last August had the highest occupancy percentage, 81.1 percent, since August 2006.

Maui County’s hotel occupancy was 72 percent, compared to 76.1 percent in August 2017, the report said. All regions of the county logged declines.

Wailea resorts had the highest occupancy rate in the state at 83.3 percent, but that was 5.3 percentage points less than last year, the largest decline in the county.

Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua occupancy in August was 71.7 percent, down 4.3 percentage points, and other Maui County occupancy was 72.4 percent, down 4 percentage points.

Another effect of this year’s natural disasters was noted in a University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization State Forecast Update released Friday. It indicated that Maui and Oahu had been benefiting from disasters on Kauai, with the flooding in the Hanalei area in April, and the Big Island, with the volcanic eruption.

“Following the natural disasters on Kauai and the Big Island, some visitor traffic has spilled over to Oahu and Maui,” the report said.

Arrivals on Maui accelerated to 12 to 13 percent in June and July, compared to 2017, the report said.

While occupancies declined in August, Maui County hotels continued to report the highest revenue per available room at $267, up 1.7 percent in August, driven by increases in average daily room rates of 7.6 percent to $371.

Wailea resorts had the highest average daily room rates in the state at $563.89, up 5 percent from last August, and the highest revenue per available room, $470, which was a 1.3 percent decline.

The average daily room rate in Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua was $310.07, up 8.7 percent, and in other Maui County, $446.67, up 6.6 percent.

The west side resorts logged revenue per available room of $222.22, up 2.5 percent, and other Maui County, $323.39, up 1.1 percent.

The tourism authority noted that the summer months of June, July and August historically are the peak travel season for Hawaii. Hotel performance on the Big Island declined due to the Kilauea eruption throughout the summer, and the rest of the islands suffered some due to Lane.

Maui County and Kauai performed the best during the summer months, despite declines in occupancy. Maui County hotels showed a 7.6 percent increase in room revenue to $297 and average daily room rates of $386, up 9.3 percent.

Occupancy declined 1.2 percentage points to 76.8 percent for the summer season in Maui County.

“All things considered, it was a good summer overall for the hotel industry on a statewide level and especially for local properties in Maui County and Kauai, as well as Oahu,” said Chun. “Hotels on the island of Hawaii suffered a downturn throughout the summer because of the dampening effect that Kilauea’s eruption had on travel bookings.”

The entire report can be found at www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/research/infrastructure-research/.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.