Friday, May 21, 1999

Hotel occupancy
slump returns

But observers say Golden
Week should lift May

By Peter Wagner


The statewide hotel occupancy rate fell last month, reversing earlier signs of a recovery after a two-year decline.

But industry observers say a 30 percent jump in Japanese visitors during the recent Golden Week holidays could push the numbers back up for May.

Art "Hopefully, this trend will turn around," said Ernie Watari, chairman and chief executive at PKF-Hawaii, an accounting firm that has been monitoring Hawaii's hotel industry since 1972.

PKF's monthly survey, released yesterday, shows statewide occupancy at 69.45 percent in April, down from 70.87 percent in April 1998.

Year-do-date figures show a statewide rate of 75.14 percent, a 1.33 percentage-point drop from 76.15 percent in the same period last year.

Increased visitor traffic from the mainland helped override a decline in Asian tourists and push occupancy up in February and March.

Oahu and Waikiki led the April decline, with all other islands except the Big Island recording better occupancy. Maui showed the highest occupancy at 78.24 percent, nearly two percentage points higher than April 1988.

The statewide average daily room rate for April was $143.87, down slightly from $144.58 a year earlier. Average room rates fell on Oahu, Maui and Molokai, but rose on the other islands, PKF's report said.

A separate report this week looking at the Japanese tourist market showed a 30 percent increase in visitors from Japan during the recent Golden Week, a cluster of four national holidays usually in the first week of May.

According to the Japan Report, by market analyst Taka Kono, Golden Week drew 52,000 Japanese tourists to Hawaii this year compared with 36,000 last year.

The increase was expected because the holidays this year stretched over a week and a half, allowing for longer vacations.

The report notes consumers in Japan seem to be gaining confidence despite gloomy news of increased unemployment in Japan. "Consumers are sensing an economic upturn, even if the government is not," Kono said in the report.

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