While 2020 was a difficult year on Hawaii vacation homeowners, 2021 has been a pleasant surprise for those that made it through 2020.
Tourism as a Whole
In the first two months of 2021 tourism was significantly down from the record setting numbers we saw in 2020. March-May saw a steady increase in tourism, but did not reach the numbers that we saw in 2019. Hawaii tourism was still down about 20% in those months. While the numbers are not released for this summer I suspect that we will see tourism numbers similar to 2019.
Vacation Rentals vs Hotels
While tourism has not seemed to hit the numbers of 2019, vacation rentals have not seemed to have suffered as much. The percentage of the guests choosing to stay in a vacation rental is up significantly from any year we have seen since opening business in 2002. For the months of March-May the percentage of guests choosing to stay in vacation rentals increased significantly. In 2019 the percentage of guests choosing to stay in a hotel was 70% and in a vacation rental was 19%. In 2021 the percentage of guests choosing to stay in a a hotel was 63% and in a vacation rental was 23%. Timeshares also saw an increase. I suspect when we see the numbers for the summer of 2021 we will see a significant increase in the number for guests choosing a vacation rental since the summer crowd is typically made up of families.
Will These Trends Continue?
There are so many factors that play into these trends at this point in time. Most experts suspect the overall significant increase in business will continue through the third quarter of 2022 and then we will see a movement to what was the prior tourism numbers.
A trend that I believe will continue is the desire to stay in a vacation rental. A lot of guests this year are trying vacation rentals for the first time due to amenities at hotels such as restaurants being limited or closed and to avoid large gatherings of people. They are finding more value in vacation rentals and I suspect that will increase demand for vacation rentals for a period of time. This really is nothing new as the demand for vacation rentals had been on the rise for a number of years prior to COVID. Due to this, many hotels in Hawaii including the Waikoloa Beach Marriott and Hilton Waikoloa have already converted or are in the processing of converting a large portion of their rooms to timeshares, which are similar alternative to vacation rentals.