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Vacation rental supply in September still not back to pre-pandemic levels

Vacation rental supply across the state was still down about a third in September from pre-pandemic times, while hotel room supply was actually a little better than it was two years ago.

In September, statewide vacation rental supply fell to 606,877 room nights, a 33.6% decline from September 2019, according to a Hawaii Tourism Authority report released Friday that was produced by Transparent Intelligence, which analyzes short-term rental markets. September vacation rental demand dropped to 360,963 units, a 42% decline from September 2019.

In comparison, Tennessee­-based STR reported that room supply for Hawaii hotels in September rose .4% to 1.6 million room nights. According to STR, hotel room demand over the same period declined 29.8% to 887,100 room nights.

Both vacation rentals and hotel performance were impacted by the coronavirus fears and restrictions in September, which included some fall out from an Aug. 23 request from Gov. David Ige to avoid non-essential travel to Hawaii through October. Ige has since said as of Nov.1 the state would welcome non-essential travel from vaccinated travelers.

While many hotel properties closed or reduced operations starting in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most had reopened by October 2020 for the start of the state’s Hawaii Safe Travels traveler screening program. That wasn’t necessarily the case for vacation rentals, which also faced additional outside pressure from enforcement efforts, especially on Oahu.

A theory behind the deeper supply drop for vacation rentals is that more of them are still offline following COVID-19 and government-related disruptions in 2020. Current regulations still ban vacation rentals from hosting quarantining travelers.

As they struggled to run their businesses, some vacation rental owners removed non-compliant listings, converted the units to longer-term rentals or sold them.

Statewide vacation rental occupancy in September was 59.5%, up 8.7 percentage points from September 2019.

Vacation rental occupancy outpaced hotels, but vacation rental owners in September had far fewer units available to fill. It’s important to note that vacation rental units are not necessarily available year-round, and might accommodate more guests than hotel rooms.

STR reported that statewide hotel occupancy in September was 55.2%, which was 23.8 percentage points lower than September 2019.

Both hotels and vacation rentals continued to see improvement in average daily rate (ADR) in September. Hotel ADR in September increased to nearly $304, a 23.7% increase from September 2019. Similarly, the daily vacation rental rate increased 26.3% to nearly $245.

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