Hotels lose millions during summer months

Joe Toy
Joe Toy
Sylvie Drouin
Sylvie Drouin

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - The slowing economy takes a big bite out of Hawaii's hotel industry, and the outlook is grim for the months ahead.

New figures released to KHNL News8 shows Hawaii hotel revenues down a little more than a hundred million dollars this past summer season.

Everything was going smooth for the hotel industry until the summer arrived. Hotels have been hit hard by the loss of many factors that stem from high fuel costs.

It's another busy sunday on the main strip of Waikiki -- one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.

But industry experts say don't be fooled by what you see. Numbers released Sunday translate into a scary sight for hotels across the state.

"Well, I think we've had this tremendous drop so far in the year and the fall doesn't look any better, bookings for the first quarter into 2009 also remain weak, so the real big question is really how long is this going to go into next year," Hotel consultant Joe Toy said.

Joe Toy is an independent hospitality consultant who came up with these findings.

"I think the biggest challenge is how to get back on track in light of the fact that we have very high fuel costs and a restriction in air capacity and I think that's one of the biggest concerns, how do we get our tourists over here," he said.

Compared to last summer, hotel revenues dropped a little more than 10 percent or around $136-million.

Total visitor arrivals are down almost 15 percent. About 300,000 less people came to the state during the summertime.

"It's cheaper for us. we wouldn't be able to come here but since the dollar is so low, we talked about it, so to us, it's an opportunity to come here visit," Canadian visitor Sylvie Drouin said.

Sylvie Drouin is one of many international visitors here, taking advantage of the weak dollar. But experts still have high hopes Hawaii will bounce back.

"I'm still very bullish on the future of Hawaii," Toy said. "I think Hawaii remains one of the best destinations on earth, it's just that we all have to weather through these bad times, not only us, but throughout the market."

Just to give you a snapshot of how bad it is for hotels, a hotel manager says they're at about 60 percent occupancy, down 20 percent from last year.