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Room rates up but visitor industry is still lagging

Arriving passengers make their way to Kahului Airport’s tram Tuesday afternoon. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui County’s tourism industry in October bested pre-pandemic numbers in average daily room rates and revenue per available room, but was still behind in visitor arrivals, spending and occupancy. 

Maui County hotels led all counties in the state in average daily room rates in October at $480, up 42.1 percent versus 2019. It also led in revenue per available room at $289 in October, up 12.2 percent for the same time in 2019, according to data released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority last week. 

But like the rest of the state, visitor arrivals, spending and occupancy in October lagged behind pre-pandemic levels. 

In October, Maui saw 189,950 visitors compared to 238,043 visitors in October 2019, according to preliminary visitor statistics released Monday by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. 

Visitor spending was $344.2 million in October, down 9.4 percent from the $379.8 million spent in October 2019. 

Occupancy at Maui County hotels in October was 60.3 percent, down 16.1 percentage points from the same time in 2019.

Overall, the state saw 550,781 visitors arrive via air service in October, mainly from the U.S. West and U.S. East. In October 2019, 796,191 visitors came to Hawaii via air and cruise ships. 

Also in October, the state saw visitors spend $1.12 billion, down 15.3 percent from the $1.33 billion in October 2019, according to the DBEDT. 

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Hawaii’s quarantine requirements for travelers, the state achieved record-level visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2019 and in the first two months of 2020, according to the DBEDT news release. 

Around 5.4 million visitors arrived in Hawaii in the first 10 months of 2021, which is a decrease of 37.3 percent compared to the 8.6 million visitors in the first 10 months of 2019. 

“Although we are 37 percent below 2019 levels, we are now on pace to end 2021 ahead of DBEDT’s third quarter economic forecast of 6.8 million visitor arrivals and $12.2 billion in visitor spending due to a strong U.S. leisure market,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney in a news release Monday. “Hawaii’s visitor economy is doing better than expected and is open for business.”

As usual, Maui’s luxury resort region of Wailea led the island and state with an average daily room rate of $621 in October, up 24.2 percent from the same time in 2019, according to the Hawaii Hotel Performance Report published by the HTA. 

Revenue per available room for Wailea was $339 in October, which was actually down 23.4 percent versus 2019, as occupancy hovered at 54.5 percent, down 33.9 percentage points from October 2019. 

In the Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua region, the average daily room rate was $422 in October, which was up 45.8 percent compared to October 2019. 

Revenue per available room for the same time period was $261, up 22.1 percent from October 2019. 

Occupancy was at 62 percent in October for the west side properties, down 12 percentage points from 2019. 

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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