Editor’s Note: This is the fourteenth in a 15-part series (appearing on LodgingMagazine.com each Monday) examining the performance of various markets in the United States. The following is courtesy of Deloitte’s “Hospitality Vision US Performance Review."
Oahu tourism started 2011 with a bang, and hotel room demand increased through November.
According to STR metrics, the Oahu market was one of the top performers of the year, with the largest increases in all three key performance metrics: occupancy, average daily room rates, and revenue per available room. Occupancy increased 3.5 percent over January-November 2011 and revPAR advanced an impressive 14 percent. Average daily room rates also gained momentum, increasing 10.2 percent to $163.36.
In November, the 2011 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) conference gave the Oahu hotel industry a bigger-than-expected bump, as occupancy peaked at 87.3 percent; room revenue exceeded year-before levels by double-digit percentages.
In early March, the tsunami in Japan threatened the sector, especially since the Japanese make up nearly 18 percent of Hawaii's 7.1 million annual tourists (the state's single largest source of visitors outside the continental US). Eighty percent of these travelers stop in Honolulu, a gateway city. Thousands of bookings of tours and hotels were canceled, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.36
But in October, the number of visitors to Oahu rose 2.1 percent (compared to October 2010), while spending jumped 36 percent to $639.6 million. They also stayed comparatively longer (7.02 days compared to 6.86 days) and spent noticeably more on a daily basis ($256 per person from $197 per person). Overall, total visitor spending across the state for the first seven months of the year increased 16.1 percent, compared to the same period last year.
Where did the tourists come from? For the first 10 months of 2011, arrivals to Oahu from Canada rose 22.8 percent, but arrivals from US West (-2.4%), US East (-0.6%), and Japan (-5.7%) were lower than year-to-date 2010.
A real surge in interest also came from Australian tourists likely because of a strong exchange rate and an increase in the number of flights between Sydney and Honolulu. December figures from the Hawaii Tourism Authority show Australian visitor numbers were up 36 percent (on top of a 26 percent jump in 2010). Data also shows Australians are staying longer in Hawaii, with an average of nearly 10 days, and spending more money during their stay.
By the end of the year, the islands’ regional airline had launched year-round daily flights to Australia, a growth strategy likely to boost the number of visitors even more.