HONOLULU (KHON2) — The rebound of tourism over the summer months came to a screeching halt. People in the hotel industry said travel typically slows down during the fall, but rising COVID cases and the governor’s message to tourists to not come magnified the slow season.
Prices for hotel rooms took a plunge. The Surfjack Hotel General Manager Lynette Eastman said the effects of Gov. David Ige’s message on Monday, Aug. 23, for nonessential travel to temporarily stop continues to be felt.
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“August, September, October is very flat,” Eastman said. “If you had something there before he made the announcement, bless you. If you didn’t, it’s like digging yourself out of the hole.”
Eastman was surprised about how quickly the uptick of hotel bookings lost steam. Prices for hotel rooms were at pre-pandemic levels during the summer months, but hotels saw more cancellations since that announcement.
Vikram Singh is a Hawaii-based marketing and revenue analyst who works with various hotel properties in the state. He said the cancellations and lack of bookings in advance prompted hotels to drop room rates drastically.
“One of the first weeks where we lost more money in cancellations than it was added to the entire market,” Singh said. “So, pretty alarming. This is kind of the COVID-19 shutdown, kind of travel back in time.”
The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann in a statement said:
“Since the governor’s request for nonessential travel to halt, the industry has seen cancellations increase and occupancy cut nearly in half in some instances. Some hotels have been forced to offer discounts in order to keep operating, and all of this taking place during our normal slow season.”
Coronavirus cases were surging and capacity at hospitals were reaching crisis levels at the time of Gov. Ige’s press conference. Cases are now on the decline but the current prices for hotel rooms are likely to remain at this level for the rest of the year.
“There are a lot of $100 deals in the market if you look around not too hard,” Singh said.
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The hotel industry is hopeful momentum will pick up once again as the holiday season approaches.