Even though foreign travel was essentially non-existent, Hawaii’s tourism industry was making a strong rebound by mid-year. Hotel occupancy in July was 82%, barely 3% point lower than July 2019. According to the STR data, RevPAR increased by 17% in July 2019, while the average daily rate increased by 21% to $303, a 21% increase.
The delta model had arrived in the Islands by the end of the month, and a statement from the governor in late August deterring non-essential travel swiftly deflated Hawaii’s bounce. According to the most recent data available, occupancy had plummeted to 55% and RevPAR had dropped to $168 in September.
Following Ige’s statement, Sean Dean, Chief Commercial Officer of the Outrigger Hospitality Group, said the cancellation rate at the company’s Hawaii resorts tripled and remained at that level for six weeks.
“Our Business was wiped out from late August to early October,” Dee added.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association’s, Kekoa McClellan, said the group heartily endorsed the governor’s recommendation against travel during the surge, but the state’s hotels were nonetheless heavily hit.
Although Ige’s decision to reopen to non-essential travel would assist, McClellan believes that visitation will stay low through the end of the year.
“It’s fantastic that we will be able to welcome and support safe tourism in the Islands ahead of the Christmas season,” McClellan added.
“However, we are still in the midst of a slow Christmas season, and hotels are adapting accordingly. For the rest of the year, there are some fantastic deals to be grabbed on the islands”.
Hawaii is also waiting for the return of group and business travel which combined with easy capacity limitations at enterprises, will be critical in attracting more hospitality workers back. According to McClellan, group travel in Hawaii is down 77% from last year, costing the economy $1.5 billion.
“The reintroduction of international travel and the relaxation are both welcome milestones”, McClellan added.