Hotel occupancy remains down amid pandemic

  • Big Island hotel occupancy rates in January were far below those from last year as could be expected amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A guest checks in King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on Tuesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A guest checks in King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on Tuesday.

Big Island hotel occupancy rates in January were far below those from last year, as could be expected amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Just 26.9% of the Big Island’s hotel rooms were occupied during the first month of 2021, down 55.4 percentage points from the year prior when 82.3% of rooms were filled, according to data released Monday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The Kohala Coast reported a lower occupancy rate last month at 24.6%, which is down 55.6 percentage points from 80.2% in January 2020.

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Statewide, the occupancy rate hovered at 23.3% in January, down from 2020 when 83.5% of the state’s hotel rooms were occupied around the time the coronavirus began to take hold. Across the state, occupancy rates were 23.6% on Oahu, 21.9% in Maui County and 18.4% on Kauai, giving the Big Island the highest rate in the Aloha State.

Despite occupancy being down substantially from the year prior, the Big Island has seen its rate slowly tick upward since October 2020 when the state reopened to tourism. During the first month of the Safe Travels program, the Big Island reported occupancy of 19.8%, which increased to 20.4% in November and then to 26.8% in December.

The lack of filled rooms led to a nearly 79% decrease in hotel revenue across the state, as revenues barely reached $90.4 million last month, compared to the $441.7 million generated in January 2020. Big Island hotel revenue was down 71.9% to about $15 million.

The average daily rates charged by hotels also decreased by just over 20% statewide, with only two outliers — luxury hotels in Maui County and hotels in Wailea, Maui, which posted increases in their daily rates by 12% and 16.9%, respectively.

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Hawaii Island’s average daily rate in January was $268.48, down 14%. On the Kohala Coast, daily rates are down about 7.7% to $442.40.

January data for vacation rental occupancy has yet to be released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. However, the lodging choice in December outperformed hotels on the Big Island, reporting an occupancy rate of 46%, which was down about 25.9 percentage points from the year prior. Statewide, 40.5% of the 251,309 units available were occupied during the final month of 2020.

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