Tovin Lapan
Tovin Lapan

Hawaii hotels had a relatively strong year when compared to other major markets, a new report released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows.

Additionally, data shows the majority of growth in room stock in the Aloha State over the last few years can be attributed to the increase in vacation rentals.

In 2018 hotels in Hawaii had the highest average daily rate in the nation, $278, and the second highest revenue per available room, $222, behind only New York City, according to the Hawaii Hotel Performance Report. The figures represent slight increases from the 2017 numbers.

The state's occupancy rate decreased 0.4% in 2018, to just under 80%, but still ranked third nationally behind New York City and San Francisco.

The report also compared Hawaii to other "sun and sea" destinations. Oahu, Maui and Kauai took the top three spots in occupancy rate, and Maui County ranked third in both RevPAR and ADR behind the Maldives and French Polynesia. All four counties increased RevPAR in 2018, with Maui leading the way at $292. Meanwhile, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island counties all experienced decreased occupancy rates, while Oahu's occupancy rate increased by less than a percentage point to 84%.

There were 6,800 fewer rooms available in 2018 than in 2017, but total room revenue increased roughly 5% to $4.36 billion. Some loss in room stock is attributable to renovations, while the volcanic eruptions on the Island of Hawaii and the April floods on Kauai's north shore led to the unexpected closing of some hotels and vacation units.

From 2015 to 2018 the number of hotel units in Hawaii has increased by 1% to 43,857, as the number of condominium hotel units and bed and breakfast rooms have both declined. Meanwhile, the number of officially recorded vacation rental units has doubled since 2009, rising 21% in the last four years to 13,082. With the hotel inventory relatively flat, vacation rentals and timeshare units (up 12% since 2015), have absorbed much of Hawaii's recent visitor growth. The total vacation rental units number is likely underreported using the standard survey methods, however, and the actual number of vacation rentals in the state is at least twice as large.

A supplemental report that analyzed home and room renting sites AirBnB, VRBO, TripAdvisor, and HomeAway found more than 30,000 units in the Aloha State advertised on the sites. That figure, according to the report, includes the vacation rental units that are officially tracked. 

Newly installed CEO and president of the HTA, Chris Tatum, told Travel Weekly in a recent interview that addressing vacation rentals is one of his top priorities. 

"Illegal vacation rentals continue to grow," Tatum said. "We've gone from 8 million to 10 million visitors annually without adding any additional hotel stock."

Currently, Kaui, Maui and Hawaii Island counties have vacation rental ordinances, but Oahu, the most visited island, does not and there is no statewide regulation. Tatum plans to work with residents and lawmakers to draw up appropriate legislation. 

"The HTA is more than just marketing, it's a management tool," he said. "We want to get feedback from residents and everyone involved, see how neighborhoods are impacted and figure out how we can improve."

The HTA reported more than 38,000 individually advertised units in 2017, but that figure is suspected to include a significant number of duplicate listings, and the data collection methods were adjusted this year.

Overall, there are 80,751 visitor units in Hawaii, relatively similar to the 2017 stock and an increase of 5% since 2015.

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