Drop in Hawaii visitors forces layoffs

Hawaii's visitor downturn has reached the Big Island, where two hotels have cut staff.

The Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort has permanently laid off 34 people, including 22 full-time and part-time employees and 12 on-call workers, at the Kailua-Kona hotel, whose work force now totals 145.

Twenty-five workers have been laid off since July at the 1,240-room Hilton Waikoloa Village, about 2% of its 1,107 staff.

The Big Island's total visitor arrivals in June fell by about 24%, while expenditures were down 25.3%.
Paul Horner, general manager of the 309-room Keauhou Beach Resort, expects a drop between 10% and 15% for the remainder of the year.

Since January, the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii on the Kohala Coast has been requiring employees to take 50% of their vacation during the slow, seven-week period prior to Aug. 1.

The 540-room hotel also allowed staff to temporarily transfer to other Fairmont properties worldwide.

Big Island hotels posted 57.2% occupancy in June, with an average daily rate of $202.13 and revenue per available room at $115.62.

That compares with 67.1% occupancy in June 2007, and an average daily room rate of $194.55 and RevPAR of $130.54.

Meanwhile, the Maui Land & Pineapple Co. has laid off 274 workers primarily because of a response to rising costs in the company's Maui Pineapple Co. unit, though the cuts are companywide.

The cuts represent a 26% decrease in MLP's workforce of 1,045 and will save the company approximately $11 million in annual operating expenses.

Job reductions affect management and labor at the corporate level and in the company's two subsidiaries, Kapalua Land Co. and Maui Pineapple Co. Maui Pineapple will lose 204 of the 274 eliminated positions.

The company has also eliminated 46 jobs at its Kapalua Resort unit and 24 positions in its corporate services and community development divisions.

MLP's principal operating subsidiaries are Maui Pineapple Co., a producer and marketer of Maui Gold pineapple, and Kapalua Land Co., operator of Kapalua Resort, a master-planned resort community in West Maui.

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