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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

O'ahu tops November occupancy figures

By Kelly Yamanouchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hotels on O'ahu had the highest occupancy rate in the state in November for the first time this year, thanks to an increase in high-spending visitors from Japan and the eastern United States.

Statewide, hotel occupancy figures for last month showed an improvement over November 2001, when the tourism industry reeled from the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks. This year's numbers, however, still lag 2000 levels.

Average occupancy in hotels across the state was 65.5 percent in November, up from 57.5 percent a year ago, according to Hospitality Advisors LLC. The survey included hotels representing 50,883 rooms, or 74.4 percent of hotel rooms in the state.

"The large percentage increases primarily reflect how poor last November was given how recent the September 11th attacks were at that time," said Hospitality Advisors President Joseph Toy.

The brightest spot was O'ahu. For the first time since last December, the island had the highest occupancy levels in the state. On O'ahu, 69.2 percent of rooms were filled, compared with 54.1 percent a year ago. Toy said part of the reason is that the number of Japanese visitors more than doubled last month compared with a year ago, and visitors from the U.S. East increased 10 percent, according to state figures. Japanese on average spend about $230 more per person per day than any other visitor group.

"O'ahu, which really had been struggling for most of this year, finally bore most of the benefit from these two lucrative markets," Toy said. The biggest losses after Sept. 11 came from declines in higher-spending visitors, he said.

Occupancy rates also improved for Kaua'i (64.9 percent, up from 64.1 percent) and the Big Island (58.3 percent, up from 51.9 percent).

Maui, which typically attracts more Mainland visitors, saw a decrease to 62.2 percent from last November's 64.9 percent.

Statewide hotels in every price category from budget to luxury had increases in occupancy. Economy hotels had the highest average occupancy at 69.6 percent, while midprice hotels had the lowest at 59.3 percent.

Average revenue per available room, a critical measure of hotel performance, also increased to $85.66, up from $73.90. Only Maui had lower revenue per available room, at $102.31, down from $106.75. The average daily rate in the state was $130.70, up from $128.54.

The November figures demonstrate how hoteliers have seen gradual improvements this year as the tourism industry slowly recovers.

Year-to-date, statewide hotel occupancy at 69.6 percent is still below the 2001 levels of 70.3 percent. The average daily rate for a hotel room is still down for the year so far, at $139.68 compared with $143.99 in the same period last year. Average revenue per available room is also down, at $97.23, down from $101.17 in 2001.

Reach Kelly Yamanouchi at 535-2470, or at kyamanouchi@honoluluadvertiser.com.