AAA: Isle vacation costs top in nation
A survey says a family will pay nearly $400 more a day on an isle trip
Visitors to Hawaii faced the highest vacation costs of any other U.S. destination, according to a survey released yesterday by AAA.
While AAA said the average travel cost across all destinations went up 3.7 percent over last year, the organization's findings indicated that travelers to Hawaii will pay far more for food and lodging than at other destinations.
AAA's survey shows that a family of two adults and two children can expect to pay a nationwide average $269 per day for food and lodging. But in Hawaii, AAA said, travelers will pay $650 per day.
The District of Columbia, averaging $611 per day, is the nearest to Hawaii in the ranking, followed by Rhode Island, $345; New York, $326; and New Jersey, $324.
The spread is smaller when you compare AAA's figures for Honolulu, at $584 per day, with New York City, at $524, and Miami Beach at $409 per day.
Rates for lodgings are mostly a result of supply and demand, especially in major markets, said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development, which oversees the popular AAA Diamond Ratings.
John Monahan, president and chief executive of the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, agreed. "If we didn't have strong demand, we wouldn't be able to achieve the rates that we are getting," he said.
Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, said declines in Hawaii's occupancy rate and forward bookings have put Hawaii hoteliers in a more generous frame of mind. There aren't many room-rate discounts, but there are a plethora of value-added options such as extra nights and free meals or entertainment packages, he said.
"The survey seemed a little out of sync from what the market place is experiencing," Towill said.
To be sure, AAA's numbers differ substantially from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism's spending estimates. During the first four months of this year, visitors from the U.S. West spent $154 per day and visitors from the U.S. East spent $181 per day.
State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert said that when compared to other states, where there is often a significantly greater range of accommodations including budget chains, Hawaii is almost always going to come out more expensive.