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Vacation rentals saw March drops but performed better than hotels

Hawaii’s vacation rental market was affected by reduced travel demand from COVID-19 fears and tourism lockdowns in March, but not to the same degree as hotels.

Vacation rentals statewide realized 64% occupancy, a nearly 15% drop from March 2019 when occupancy was just over 78%, according to a Hawaii Vacation Rental Performance Report released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Tourism Research Division, which utilized data from Transparent Intelligence Inc.

However, the average daily rate (ADR) for a vacation rental statewide in March rose to more than $239, an increase of 14% from March 2019.

The results reflect major decreases in air lift to Hawaii as flights were canceled due to COVID-19. The market also was impacted by a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for all incoming passengers to Hawaii that began on March 26. They should also reflect the fact that at various points in March local governments categorized vacation rentals as non-essential businesses and ordered them closed. The state Department of Transportation and HTA have been working to tighten loopholes in the quarantine order, especially to address complaints about vacation rental use.

Occupancy drops were felt across vacation rental markets in Oahu, Maui County, Hawaii island and Kauai; however, each achieved ADR increases. Oahu had been posting the greatest occupancy declines due to government zoning crackdowns before COVID-19. However, Kauai posted the greatest occupancy drop in the COVID-19 world.

In March, the total monthly supply of statewide vacation rentals increased to 871,500 unit nights, a gain of nearly 13%. The supply of available vacation rental units in March increased on every major island but Oahu, which posted a 9% drop.

Demand for vacation rental units in March fell 8% to 557,400 unit nights statewide. The drop was driven by a nearly 31% decline in demand on Oahu. In comparison, demand rose nearly 10% on Maui and only fell about 3% on Kauai and there was a scant .3% decline on Hawaii island.

The report defines vacation rentals as rental homes, condominiums, private rooms in private homes or shared room/space in private homes. It notes that vacation rentals unlike hotels, timeshares or condominium hotels, aren’t necessarily available year-round or each day of the month.

In comparison, Hawaii’s hotels experienced a more than 34% drop in occupancy, which was at nearly 45% percent in March 2020. The average daily rate for a Hawaii hotel room statewide also decreased by nearly 2% to $280. Hotel demand statewide fell by nearly 44% in March. Hotel supply statewide fell 0.8% in March; however, this does not reflect the rooms that were taken out of service at the end of the month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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