Hotel occupancy
down but improving

Tallies trail 2001 by only
single digits for the first
time since Sept. 11

Star-Bulletin staff

The plummet in Hawaii tourism may be climbing out of its low, according to a new industry report released yesterday.


Hawaii hotel occupancy fell 7 percent in February, the first month since Sept. 11 that the year-over-year decline has not been in double digits, according to a monthly report from industry consultant PKF-Hawaii .

Hotels across the state reported being 80.48 percent full last month, down from 86.63 percent during the same period a year earlier. Hotel occupancy rates have dropped for 13 straight months.

Every island except Molokai reported lower numbers. Oahu occupancy fell 6.6 percent to 83.04 percent; Big Island occupancy dropped more than 10.9 percent to 76.42. Maui fell 5.3 percent to 81.33 and Kauai was down 9.7 percent to 72.04 percent full.

The lone bright spot, Molo- kai, improved 6.8 percent to 72.12 percent. The island's increase is the first reported by any island since Sept. 11.

The slowing decline shows that tourism is poised to recover, PKF-Hawaii Chairman and Chief Executive Ernie Watari said.

"February, traditionally one of the strongest months for tourism, recorded an impressive 80.48 percent statewide occupancy, the first month since 9/11 that showed less than double-digit decreases in occupancy," Watari said. "It is encouraging to see tourism starting to rebound and it is evident that visitors are starting to overcome the fear of traveling."

Hotels on average charged slightly less last month. The average daily room rate fell 4.9 percent to $154.39 a night.

The decline in occupancy combined with the lower rates to drag down properties' revenue per available room, a key financial indicator, by 11.6 percent. The properties brought in $124.25 per available room last month, down from more than $140 in February 2001.

PKF's figures are based on a survey of 131 properties comprising 74 hotels and 57 resort condominiums.

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