Less People Staying at Hotels

Murray Towill
Murray Towill
Jon Conching
Jon Conching

WAIKIKI (KHNL) -- With the U.S. economy hanging on the edge of a recession, Hawaii's hotel industry is hurting. That's according to local travel experts.

Fewer tourists are booking rooms. With the economy on shaky ground, analysts say Hawaii hotels have an uncertain future ahead.

Hawaii's hotel industry is seeing more empty rooms. According to the Hotel and Lodging Association, occupancy rates are down - the lowest the association says it has seen in three or four years.

"In general, I think they're a little bit lower than they were a year ago. I think that's primarily due to, in Waikiki, that's due to a softness in both the Japanese market and in the group markets," said Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association President Murray Towill.

Recent numbers from a travel research agency, Hospitality Advisors, show hotel occupancy rates across the state are down more than five percent compared to the year before.

The agency says the slow economy has hurt consumer confidence so more vacationers are putting off trips to Hawaii.

There are hotels that are not suffering from low occupancy rates, like at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. But the hotel has has one advantage over its competitors.

"What really helps this property out is the fact that we don't rely only on the leisure business. Meetings and conventions and conferences are great business for us and they've been doing very well so far through the year," said Jon Conching, Vice President of Hilton's Sales and Marketing Department.

For other hotels that are not faring as well, Hospitality Advisors says more are now focusing on Hawaii's community, offering Kamaaina rates to help fill vacancies.

There are hotels converting some of their rooms into condos, so even with less rooms to book, Hawaii is still seeing more vacancies.