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Saturday, April 26, 2003



March flat
for hotels

Occupancy was up less than
1 percent statewide, while room
revenue trends were mixed


Hotel occupancy was flat or stronger on most islands in March, compared with the same period last year, according to a survey by industry accountants PKF-Hawaii.

The only weak spot was Big Island occupancy, which fell to 72.9 percent from 74 percent, reflecting lower visitor arrivals. The decrease was largely attributable to the Kona side and the Kohala Coast. Hilo occupancy rose to 74 percent from 64.4 percent.

Art Room revenue trends were mixed. Maui's room revenue also fell slightly, to $181.59 from $182.67 last year. The Big Island's revenue dropped 5.5 percent to $135.02 from $142.96 last year. But Oahu room revenue rose to $80.51 from $76.08, and Kauai revenue increased to $107.22 from $106.41.

"It is encouraging to see that Hawaii hotels have been able to sustain their occupancy and (room rates), despite the impacts of the war with Iraq," said Ernest Watari, chief executive of PKF. "Vacation travelers this time around were a lot more confident of the impacts of the war than they were back in 1991 when uncertainty of the Persian Gulf War impacted travel substantially. This likely contributed to the relatively strong showing in March."

Hawaii visitors arrivals in March were not so rosy. Some 541,156 visitors came to Hawaii last month, down 4.7 percent from last year and down 12 percent from March 2001, according to the state. Weak arrivals to Oahu caused the drop, while Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Lanai had more visitors than they had last year. On the Big Island, arrivals fell 4.3 percent.

Statewide, hotels and resort condominiums were 76.5 percent full in March, compared with 76.4 percent occupancy last year. Average room revenue edged up 1.1 percent to $119.23 from $117.91 last year.

Oahu occupancy remained about the same at 76.5 percent, while Maui occupancy rose a point to 80.8 percent from 80.7 percent. Kauai occupancy was 71.8 percent, compared with 69.7 percent last year.

"The outbreak of SARS and the continued economic woes of Japan will pose challenges to the hotel industry in the next few months," Watari said.

Japanese arrivals in April are down 30 percent from last year, and down 45 percent from April 2001. That trend, the result of fears of SARS, the war, terrorism and North Korea tensions, is expected to dampen the Golden Week string of Japanese national holidays that starts Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Hawaii arrivals from the United States are on the rise, despite the war, displacing Japanese visitors.

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