“It was a challenge”: the occupancy rate of hotels fell in September after the governor’s request not to travel

Hotels on the island of Hawaii saw their occupancy rates drop significantly in September following Gov. David Ige’s request not to come to Aloha State as Hawaii battled a increase in COVID cases.

In September, hotels on the island of Hawaii reported 56 percent of rooms occupied, up from 73.2 percent in August, according to data released Wednesday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Beach resorts along the Kohala coast have seen their occupancy rates drop similarly, from 73.5% in August to 51.6% in September.

The average daily rate and revenue per available room also fell month over month, the data showed.

The average daily rate for a hotel room in September was $ 306.86 island-wide and $ 476.26 on the Kohala coast, down 20.2% from 26.5 %, respectively, compared to August. Revenue per room on the island fell 39% to just under $ 172, and on the Kohala Coast, revenue fell almost 45% to $ 245.97.

“It has been a challenge. We saw a significant drop after the governor’s announcement, ”said Stephanie Donoho, executive director of the Kohala Coast Resort Association, which represents properties along the island’s west coast. “We are talking about losses and cancellations in the tens of millions. We had a running figure at one point and had lost as much as $ 30 million after the August 23 announcement.

On August 23, Ige urged visitors to refrain from visiting Hawaii until October as the state battles an increase in COVID-19 cases as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread and hospitals exceeded their capacity. His request, although not mandatory, appears to have been heeded, based on hotel occupancy figures, however, the state has yet to release data on the number of visitors who have come to the state in September.

Hoteliers are now hoping that the governor’s message this week that Hawaii is open to visitors again from November 1 will be heard just as far away.

“We are grateful that the governor announced on Tuesday that we are reopened. We hope this gets amplified in the media, ”Donoho said, explaining that the request to avoid traveling to Hawaii was also having an impact on already rescheduled group / meeting trips.

The industry is also eagerly awaiting the resumption of international travel on November 8, when the federal government allows fully vaccinated international travelers to travel to the United States. resume direct flights between Kona and Japan until late spring, at the earliest.

“It’s a wonderful light at the end of the tunnel and any light we are happy to bask in, but we are closely following the actual return of international flights to Kona,” Donoho said.

At the very least, the island of Hawaii will be ready to welcome foreign travelers upon their return with a new state-of-the-art Federal Inspection Services facility that was dedicated this week to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport in Keahole. The $ 58.7 million customs facility also provides a second international gateway to the state in the event of a disruption at the main port of entry at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.

Statewide, Hawaii’s hotel occupancy rate was 55.2% in September, up from 73.4% in August. The average daily rate and revenue per available room also declined month over month. The daily rate for a hotel room in September was $ 304.32, down 14.3% from the previous month. Revenue per room fell 35.6% to just under $ 168. Maui County hotels led the state with an occupancy rate of 59.2% in September, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

“We are encouraged to see occupancy levels increase as the holiday season approaches,” said Charles Head, General Manager of The Fairmont Orchid. “The steady pace of bookings we have seen indicates that guests are really looking forward to celebrating the holiday season on the beautiful island of Hawaii. It remains a priority for our property to continue to apply strict health and safety standards, as well as to promote responsible travel practices, as we have a deep regard for the well-being of our guests and great respect for this land that we call home. “

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the September survey included 144 properties representing 46,094 rooms, or 85.4% of all accommodation properties and 86% of operating accommodation properties with 20 or more rooms in the Hawaiian Islands. . On the island of Hawaii, there were 15 properties representing 4,760 rooms.

The agency has yet to release its vacation rental performance report in September. In August, 63.5% of vacation rental units on the island of Hawaii were occupied. Statewide, vacation rental occupancy was 60.8% this month.

About Brad S. Fulton

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