Hawaii reports decline in December hotel occupancy rate

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 travelers 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.”

  1. J S January 25, 2021 4:26 pm Reply

    I wonder if that has anything to do with the travel restrictions that Hawaii imposed. ?!? Lol

  2. I saw a Vampire once January 25, 2021 9:22 pm Reply

    Definitely. I just found something interesting. A traveler can visit Hawai’i and still get sick along the way. They’re are worried about the new variant strain COVID-19. More contagious. If they get sick, the good news is they will be given medicine or quarantine for it. The bad news is, if they don’t get sick, but after leaving months after, find out that they need a vaccine shot for the coronavirus, they won’t be able to get it. It is not some kind of drug being taken to meet the general needs of the public. If that person gets sick after, he cannot just get the vaccine at the hospital. The vaccine is only for serious cases. It is not available yet to the greater public. 85% of the U.S. population to get vaccinated means that guy is included. The bad news is, he’ll have to get sick to get the COVID-19 shot. This is something else. But very much the way it is.

  3. James January 26, 2021 8:01 am Reply

    At the beginning of the shut-down, 10+ months ago, there were a number of officials, business people and concerned, knowledgeable citizens who talked about the need to diversify the economy in Hawaii. A number of articles came forward and radio programs discussed the issues around diversification.

    Turning around an economy, especially one that has relied primarily on one avenue of revenue is not a task for the weak of heart and takes citizen buy-in, political will, investment, and support from businesses large and small.

    And yet here we are with seemingly little actual planning and no real initiatives that have hit the ground running. Inertia works when things are humming along to keep it humming along, but things aren’t humming along.

    We need a different tune to hum. One that brings real economic change, and not playing the same game waiting for things to get ‘better’.

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