Wednesday, September 12, 2001

America Attacked

Visitors beginning
to cancel or adjust
Hawaii trips

The short-term impact is
serious, executives say

By Russ Lynch

Tour groups have already begun canceling Hawaii trips and the outlook for Hawaii tourism is uncertain in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks, tourism officials say.

"We've had 18 group cancellations in the next three weeks," said Keith Vieira, vice president and director of operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. in Hawaii. "Most of them are not very big but we have couple that would have been 200 rooms."

In the short run, the effect will be serious, Vieira said. For the next 30 days there is a great deal of uncertainty, he said.

Meanwhile, several major hotel operators on Oahu and the neighbor islands are offering special rates to visitors who must stay beyond their original checkout time.

Starwood's rates are typical. Vieira said guests forced to stay on will be charged 50 percent of the hotel's posted rate for the first night, less for additional nights, perhaps 75 percent off or more depending on the location.

An obvious factor in those decisions is that with airlines not flying, there are no people lining up for the rooms.

"The guest has to pay, but we're taking a significant hit," Vieira said.

Outrigger Enterprises Inc., operator of the Outrigger and Ohana hotels, said it has not experienced cancellations.

"The good news is, they're not canceling their travel plans, they're just adjusting their travel dates," said Jim Austin, an Outrigger spokesman.

The hotels have introduced a "compassion rate," a lower rate for those forced to stay, which can be 50 percent or more below the regular rate depending on the property.

"(Tuesday) we expected 1,800 check-outs from 31 hotels. We expected 1,300 check-ins today," Austin said.

The hotels were able to take care of travelers whose flights were diverted to Hawaii Tuesday from links that should have been Asia-California or South Pacific-California nonstops, he said.

Kim Sheree, a spokeswoman for the Hilton Hawaiian Village, said the hotel has not lost any major conventions but it has one it had to keep. About 750 people here for a Cisco Technology meeting had to stay when flights were grounded, she said.

There is a room for them to go to for updates on what is happening to "find out whatever news we can give them," Sheree said.

The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau said about 145,000 visitors were in the islands when the disaster struck and have been accommodated in hotels.

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