Kaua‘i hotels lead market gains

LIHU‘E — Despite national reports of a struggling economy, there are signs of positive momentum in some of Hawai‘i’s tourism sectors.

The Islands have experienced gains in both average daily hotel room rates (ADR) and hotel occupancy levels, which has led to a 10 percent increase in revenue per available room to $151 for the month of August, a Hospitality Advisors announcement released Monday states. Total statewide hotel room revenue improved 8 percent to $751 million during a “busy” summer season.

Statewide ADR rose for the 14th consecutive month to $195, which is an 8 percent improvement over last year, and hotel occupancy rose to 78 percent, representing a 2 percentage-point gain.

The Hospitality Advisors release states the increase in occupancy was “notable” given a 4 percent decline in visitor arrivals to islands, as indicated by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s most recent report.

HA attributes the gains in occupancy — despite fewer arrivals from the Mainland and Japan — to several factors: a higher mix of visitors choosing hotels over other types of accommodations, such as timeshare properties, vacation rentals and stays with friends and family; a “strong” 14 percent increase in visitor days; and a 24 percent increase in arrivals from Canada, as well as gains in other international markets.

The luxury market achieved the highest occupancy levels among the price segments, which HA attributes to tourism originating from “high-spending” countries like Korea and China.

For the June-through-August summer season, statewide occupancy averaged 75 percent, which represents a decrease of 1 percentage point from last year, HA reports.

“The gains on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i in August helped Hawai‘i’s hotel market to end the summer busy season on a positive note,” said Joseph Toy, president and CEO of Hospitality Advisors in the report. “O‘ahu’s upscale and luxury market showed particular strength in August.”

Toy noted the market indicates some softening heading into the fourth quarter.

“With a little more uncertainty in the market, we are seeing a return to shorter booking windows and some seasonal discounting,” he said. “We are still optimistic for the first quarter of 2012, particularly for O‘ahu and Maui.”

Among all the islands, Kaua‘i hotels have had the largest increases in both occupancy and ADR for the month. Occupancy levels were 71 percent, an increase of  9 percent over the previous month. ADR was $217, which represents an increase of 12 percent. Kaua‘i hotels reported that revenues per available room (RevPAR) increased an “impressive” 28 percent during August to $154, the Hospitality Advisors release states.

O‘ahu hotels also reported a “substantial” 10 percent ADR gain to $170 for the month, HA reports, resulting in a 15 percent increase in RevPAR to $148 compared to last year.

O‘ahu achieved the highest occupancy level in the state, at 87 percent during August. HA on Monday contributed it an increase in air service from Japan and Korea, and the inauguration of regular non-stop air service from Shanghai.

Friday Mike McCartney, president and CEO of Hawai‘i Tourism Authority released a statement concerning the suspension of China Eastern Airlines’ four Shanghai-to-Honolulu routes.

“Demand from China to visit the Hawaiian Islands remains high,” McCartney said in the statement. “However, obtaining visas to travel to the U.S. continues to be an obstacle. I will be traveling to China with Governor Neil Abercrombie this weekend. We will be meeting with officials from the U.S. Embassy to discuss streamlining the visa process. China remains an important market for Hawai‘i and the HTA will continue to work on developing this market.”

Maui’s hotel occupancy fell 3 percent in August to a level of 80 percent but still managed a 6 percent gain in ADR to $253 HA reports, adding that the resort district of Wailea had the highest ADR in the state at $408.

The Big Island continued to lag the statewide market, the HA release states, with both occupancy and ADR “generally flat” at 60 percent and $193 respectively.

Hawaiian Airlines September Traffic Statistics report released Oct. 6 shows an overall increase in passengers of 19 percent for September, 14 percent for the third quarter and 18 percent for the year.

Kaua‘i is the second-favorite island in the U.S., following Maui,, according to a recent reader survey by Conde Nast Traveler. O‘ahu and the Big Isle tied for fourth and Lana‘i ranked sixth. Honolulu ranked fifth for U.S. cities and Hawaiian Airlines ranked third for favorite U.S. airline.

• Vanessa Van Voorhis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or by emailing vvanvoorhis@thegardenisland.com.

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