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Maui hotel occupancy, revenue get a December bump

Year-over-year performance data is still lagging due to pandemic

Typically one of the busiest times of the year, December brought higher hotel occupancy rates to Maui County compared to the previous month.

County hotels in December saw a 26 percent occupancy, up from 20.2 percent in November, according to the latest Hawaii Tourism Authority hotel performance report released Jan. 22.

Occupancy is down, of course, from the same timeframe last year as tourism continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Oct. 15, transpacific travelers have been allowed to bypass a mandatory self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 test, a program aimed at restarting Hawaii’s visitor-reliant economy.

In December, Maui County again led the state in revenue per available room, earning $130. Oahu room revenue was $43, Hawaii island’s was $88 and Kauai’s was $24. In November, Maui County also led the state with $76 in revenue per available room.

Maui County’s average daily rate of $501 in December far surpassed the rate in other local counties. Hawaii island had an average daily rate of $329, while Oahu was at $184 and Kauai was at $178. While Maui County had a daily rate at $375 in November, the December rate was down 7.4 percent year over year.

The luxury resort area of Wailea in December earned $218 in room revenue, with an average daily rate at $834 and occupancy at 26.1 percent. Although down compared to the same time last year, the metrics were up from November, when Wailea had a room revenue of $130, an average daily rate at $523 and occupancy of 24.9 percent.

Maui’s Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua hotels also saw an increase month over month. In December, the area had a room revenue of $91.25, average daily rate at $416.28 and occupancy of 21.9 percent. The same region in November had a room revenue of $51, average daily rate at $345 and occupancy of 14.8 percent.

Although tourism officials hailed 2019 as a banner year, residents pointed to traffic and environmental concerns as effects of overtourism in Maui County where visitor numbers had reached record levels. With the mandatory shutdown of nonessential businesses at the onset of the pandemic, officials began to mull managing tourism more effectively upon reopening.

Many Hawaii properties closed or reduced supply by April and began reopening in the fall, according to the HTA. Room supply for the year was 14.1 million room nights, down 28.5 percent from 2019. Room demand was 5.2 million room nights in 2020, down 67.2 percent year over year.

Overall in the 2020 calendar year, Hawaii hotels earned $99 in revenue per room, less than half the $229 reported in 2019. Average daily rate decreased 5.5 percent to $267 and occupancy declined 43.7 percent to about 37 percent.

Total statewide hotel revenues in 2020 were $1.4 billion compared with $4.5 billion in 2019, the report said.

However, compared to the top U.S. markets, the Hawaiian Islands earned the highest room revenue at $99. The area was followed by Miami/Hialeah at $87 and San Francisco/San Mateo at $74. Hawaii also led the U.S. market in average daily rate at $267.

In the context of international “sun and sea” destinations, Hawaii counties were in the upper half of the group for revenue per available room in 2020. Hotels in the Maldives ranked highest at $250, French Polynesia at $245 and Maui County at $140. Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu ranked sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Maldives led in average daily rate at $782, French Polynesia at $59 and Maui County at $414. Kauai, Hawaii island and Oahu ranked sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

French Polynesia led occupancy rates at about 42 percent, followed by Oahu at 39 percent and the Puerto Vallarta region at 38.7 percent. Hawaii island, Maui County and Kauai ranked fourth, sixth and ninth, respectively.

Also compiled by HTA and released Jan. 22, the Hawaii Vacation Rental Performance report for December showed that the total monthly supply of statewide vacation rentals was 621,100 unit nights, and monthly demand was 251,300 unit nights, resulting in an average monthly unit occupancy of 40.5 percent.

In 2020, the statewide vacation rental supply fell by 39.6 percent compared to 2019 levels with 6 million available unit nights. Unit demand was more sharply impacted, down 65.1 percent year over year to 2.6 million unit nights. The average 2020 occupancy for Hawaii vacation rental units was 42.8 percent (a decrease of 42.3 percentage points) and average daily rate was $238 (down 17.9 percent).

Unlike hotels, condominium hotels, timeshare resorts and vacation rental units are not necessarily available year-round or each day of the month and often accommodate a larger number of guests than traditional hotel rooms.

For Maui County, vacation rentals were allowed to operate during December but could only be used as a place of quarantine by interisland travelers awaiting their pre-travel test results.

In December, Maui County had the largest vacation rental supply of all four counties with 250,800 available unit nights (down 10.6 percent year over year) and unit demand was 104,800 unit nights (down 52.7 percent), resulting in 41.8 percent occupancy (down 37.2 percentage points) with an average daily rate of $277 (down 24.8 percent).

During 2020, there were 2.1 million available unit nights in Maui County (a decline of 33.1 percent year over year). Maui County vacation rental occupancy was 42.4 percent (a decrease of 46.3 percentage points) and the average daily rate was $293.

For the full reports, visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.com.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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