Hawaii reports decline in December hotel occupancy rate

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HONOLULU — Hawaii has reported its hotel occupancy rates have declined by more than half in December compared to the same time in 2019, although the rates have gradually increased in recent months.

Hawaii Tourism Authority data shows that 23.9% of hotel rooms in the state were full last month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a decline of 56 percentage points compared to December 2019.

December occupancy was in the low to mid-20% range for every major Hawaii island, except Kauai which dropped to 13.4%, Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Only Washington, D.C. had a lower hotel occupancy rate than Hawaii in the United States.

Hotel revenues per available room and the average daily hotel rates dropped by 75% and 17%, respectively, from the previous year as well, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported. Hotel room revenue reached $107.9 million in 2020 compared to $472 million in 2019. Room demand also decreased by 72% statewide.

American Hotel & Lodging Association spokesman Kekoa McClellan said the industry has a long way to go, estimating the average hotel in Hawaii needs to hit at least 52% occupancy to be profitable.

“Occupancy is still through the floor,” McClellan said, adding that 2021 began much like 2020 ended.

Jan Freitag, senior vice-president for lodging insights at Tennessee-based STR, Inc., said the state's tight COVID-19 travel restrictions served as a deterrent for some, but were also an attraction.

“By adding this extra step, you give travellers comfort. It plays both ways. It’s not purely negative,” he said.

He added: “The sooner that we can get people back on airplanes and into ballrooms, the sooner the industry will recover.”

The Associated Press