More than a year from now, Hawaii’s hotel industry won’t have stopped bleeding.
A new annual Hawaii hotel forecast prepared by STR for the Hawaii Tourism Authority estimates that by the end of 2021, statewide occupancy will have hit only 46.3%, still short of the 50% to 60% occupancy that the industry needs to break even.
Many of Hawaii’s hotels temporarily closed during the pandemic as government restrictions and fear of COVID-19 significantly reduced travel demand. Quite a number were open by Oct. 15, the start of the state’s pre-
arrival testing program under Safe Travels
Hawaii. But so far, Hawaii’s formal welcome-
back to travelers hasn’t filled hotel rooms to the degree that many had hoped.
About 75% of Hawaii hotels are operating again. Still, only about 1,000 out of 8,000 Unite Here Local 5 hotel members are back to work. Some 5,000 of them already have lost their health insurance, and most are facing the loss of other support programs just after Christmas.
Local 5 spokesman Bryant de Venecia said, “Most of our workers have lost health insurance. They really want to go back to work, but that’s really out of our control. We can’t control how many tourists will
occupy our hotels.”
“If we are going to recap 2020, we barely left square one. Our members are still struggling, still dealing with how to pay for rent and food and health care,” de Venecia said. “It’s just heartbreaking, especially right before Christmas. People need help now.”
Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging &Tourism Association, said Hawaii hoteliers are languishing, too.
Hannemann cited a recent survey of American Hotel &Lodging Association members that estimated 7 in
10 hoteliers (71%) wouldn’t make it another six months without further federal assistance given current and projected travel demand, and 77% of hotels report they will be forced to lay off more workers.
“I don’t know if Hawaii is quite at 71%. We’ve got a number of foreign hotel owners who might be able to survive beyond that period. Still, I would reckon a good number of our properties are in dire straits,” Hannemann said.
Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA, said in
a statement that Congress must move quickly to pass additional relief for U.S.
“Every hour Congress doesn’t act, hotels lose
400 jobs. As devastated industries like ours desperately wait for Congress to come together to pass another round of COVID-19
relief legislation, hotels continue to face record devastation,” Rogers said. “Without action from Congress, half of U.S. hotels could close with massive layoffs in the next six months.”
Rogers said U.S. hotels
already are expecting to face a difficult winter, characterized by a significant drop in travel demand — some 7 out of 10 Americans are not expected to travel over the holidays.
According to STR, U.S. weekly hotel occupancy has slipped further from previous weeks.
“After ranging between 48% and 50% occupancy from mid-July into the later portion of October, the last three