Hawaii offers good mix of tourist accommodation

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“Hawaii has an effective mix of accommodation offerings that is meeting the lodging interests of travelers coming from around the world,” said Jennifer Chun, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) Director of Tourism Research, commenting on the visitor accommodation report released today.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) today released the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory, which showed that visitor accommodation units statewide increased to 80,336 units (+1.6%) year-over-year, the largest total ever recorded for the State of Hawaii.

The annual census of existing and planned visitor accommodation units statewide showed growth in three of the five categories reported, with increases in hotel rooms (+1.2% to 44,431), timeshare units (+3.2% to 11,062) and vacation rental units (+3.9% to 12,659) compared to 2016. Condo hotel units declined slightly (-0.4% to 10,875) and there was a decrease in units provided by apartments, bed & breakfasts, hostels and other miscellaneous accommodations (-3.5% to 1,309) (Figure 2).

Most of Hawaii’s visitor accommodation units in 2017 were comprised of hotel rooms (55.3%), followed by vacation rentals (15.8%), timeshare units (13.8%) and condo hotels (13.5%), with the balance (1.6%) from a combination of other providers, such as apartments, bed & breakfasts and hostels.

Nearly half of Hawaii’s visitor accommodation units are on Oahu (47.9%), with the majority in Waikiki. Maui has the second-highest percentage of units (26.5%), followed by the island of Hawaii (14.0%) and Kauai (11.0%). Molokai and Lanai combined for the fewest units (0.6%).

HTA Director Chun added, “From the properties that we can survey and assess, overall growth in 2017 was modest highlighted by increases in the supply of hotel rooms and timeshare units.”

Chun noted the following updates for each island in the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory:

• Oahu: The island’s supply of hotel rooms increased in 2017 with the opening of new hotels, such as the Hampton Inn & Suites and Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, and the reopening of several properties following a renovation or rebranding, including the Prince Waikiki, The Laylow Autograph Collection and Holiday Inn Express Waikiki. Also notable was the opening of the new Hilton Grand Islander in Waikiki with 411 timeshare units in March 2017.

• Maui: The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas opened with 195 timeshare units in April 2017, increasing the island’s total timeshare units by 6.9 percent.

• Kauai: The expansion of the Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection, resulted in a net increase in the island’s hotel units.

• Island of Hawaii: There was a net decrease in hotel units due to the renovation of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and redevelopment of the 555-hotel unit Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, which reopened as the 122-timeshare unit Marriott’s Waikoloa Ocean Club.

“If all vacation rentals could be accurately identified and counted, the overall total of Hawaii’s visitor accommodation units would be greater in the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory report,” said Chun. “Until all vacation rentals are being accounted for in the report, the tourism industry will never fully know the impact this segment of accommodations is having on the quality of Hawaii’s brand as a travel destination.”

Individually Advertised Units Adds Uncertainty to Vacation Rental Total

In recent years, technology has greatly impacted Hawaii’s visitor accommodations supply by facilitating the rental of individual properties, which has led to unprecedented growth in the number of vacation rental units statewide. The proliferation of independently managed vacation rental units includes many that are unlicensed, unidentified and not accounted for in HTA’s Visitor Plant Inventory.

Chun commented, “The current survey methodology used for the Visitor Plant Inventory is insufficient with regards to vacation rentals because individually advertised units do not have identifying information.”

Included as an appendix to the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory Report is a supplemental study, the 2017 Individually Advertised Units in Hawaii Report, which analyzes data from AirBnB, HomeAway, and TripAdvisor. This HTA study, which has been done annually since 2014, utilizes point-in-time data extractions of popular vacation rental booking websites to try and better assess this rapidly evolving type of accommodations.

Island maps showing the location of individually advertised units by zip code, as reflected in the supplemental study, shows the extent of vacation rental units statewide, particularly the density of units found in resort areas (Figures 3-6). Many vacation rentals have operated for decades and are accounted for in the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory report.

However, the number of Hawaii properties listed on these booking sites is highly fluid because a property can be listed or unlisted based on market changes or changes in ownership. In addition, this data collection method likely over-counts the number of individually advertised units due to the practice of operators listing rentals on multiple booking sites and also using these sites as a marketing channel for traditional accommodations, such as hotel rooms and timeshare stays.

Chun added: “This supplemental study tells the tourism industry that searching these booking sites is unreliable for determining how many vacation rentals are being offered throughout the islands. The total number of individually advertised units is likely overstated.

“Due to the lack of unique identifying information associated with each vacation rental unit on these booking sites, it is not possible to eliminate much of the double and triple counting that occurs when a property is listed on multiple sites. Without this information, the true impact of the positives and negatives created by vacation rentals in Hawaii is unknown.

“A benefit of having comprehensive regulations for alternative accommodations is that travel consumers seeking this type of lodging in Hawaii can make reservations with confidence, knowing that the laws of the state are being followed. They can be assured that the units being rented actually exist and are also clean and safe.”

HTA’s 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory was produced by Kloninger & Sims Consulting LLC. Data was gathered by surveying properties in HTA’s Visitor Plant Inventory database and identified using a variety of sources. The report is posted on HTA’s website.

Click here to see the full report.