High rates, lower occupancy in last month of summer | News, Sports, Jobs

Maui County hotels again led all four counties in revenue per available room at $439 in August and the second-highest occupancy at 73.6 percent. Travel to the islands shot up during the summer as COVID-19 cases went down, though a recent spike in cases and the end of the busy travel season will likely slow things down for the industry. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

Maui County hotels finished a busy, pandemic-delayed travel season with slightly lower occupancy in August but still with the highest rates and room revenues in the state.

Hotels across Maui County reached average daily rates of $596 — a 52 percent increase over the same time in 2019 — and revenue per available room of $439 — 43.6 percent higher than in August 2019. Both were tops among all four counties, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority data released Monday. Occupancy rates of 73.6 percent — down 4.3 percentage points from August 2019 — were second in the state only to Kauai, where occupancy reached 76.7 percent.

Kauai also reported average daily rates of $357 and room revenue of $274.

Hawaii island hotels, meanwhile, saw average daily rates of $385, room revenue of $282 and occupancy of 73.2 percent, while Oahu hotels had average daily rates of $245, room revenue of $179 and occupancy of 73 percent.

Statewide, hotel room revenues rose to $433.4 million last month, a 6.1 percent increase over August 2019, with room demand at 1.2 million room nights and room supply at 1.7 million room nights.

Travel to the islands has steadily opened up since October, when the state launched a pre-travel testing program that gradually allowed exemptions for travelers vaccinated against COVID-19. Interisland quarantine rules ended in June and travelers fully vaccinated in the U.S. were allowed to bypass testing and quarantine starting in July, opening the door to a wave of visitors that sparked concerns with overtourism and an influx of people during the pandemic.

The summer season was busy for Maui County, which saw the state’s highest occupancy (79.2 percent), daily rates ($498) and revenue per available room ($394) in June and the highest daily rates ($618) and room revenue ($505) in July. Occupancy for Maui County hotels in July was the lowest in the state at 81.7 percent.

In August, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations began to spike in Hawaii, prompting government officials to tell visitors that it was not a good time to visit and to ask residents to stick to essential travel.

“The peak summer season ended with August revenue and room rates remaining strong for Hawaii’s hotel industry statewide compared to August 2019,” Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries said in a news release Monday. “However, the rise in COVID-19 cases and subsequent hospitalizations caused by the delta variant reminds us that we’re still in a fluid situation as we approach the seasonally slower fall period for travel.”

High rates and revenues in Maui County were driven by high-priced resort regions, including Wailea, which reported average daily rates of $912.93 in August — a 45.9 percent increase over the same time in 2019 — and room revenue of $642.09, a 12.8 percent increase over August 2019, despite a 20.6-percentage point drop in occupancy from 90.9 percent in August 2019 to 70.3 percent this year.

Wailea’s rates were second in the state only to Maui County luxury properties, which saw average daily rates of $1,013.92, an 86.5 percent increase over August 2019, and room revenue of $646.07, up 40.8 percent from the same time in 2019. Occupancy was at 63.7 percent, down 20.7 percentage points from 84.4 percent in 2019.

The Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua region performed below the county average, with daily rates of $491.05 and room revenue of $374.89. However, these were still 50.7 percent and 50.8 percent better, respectively, than in August 2019. Occupancy for hotels in the area was 76.3 percent last month, identical to what it was in August 2019.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at [email protected].

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