As 2023 came to a close we saw several interesting trends in the Hawaii vacation rental and tourism industries that is worth considering. Keep in mind that 2022 was the best year that the Hawaii Islands had ever seen as far as tourism so seeing some decreases in numbers is not necessarily a horrible thing. I also will include some comparisons to 2019 as that is the best year to compare to take out any effects COVID19 had on travel.
Hawaii tourism saw an increase in visitors by 3.8% in comparison to 2022. This increase was directly attributed to more international travel opening up and tourists from other countries with the largest increase being from Japan. US travelers were down 3.6%, but still up 6% in comparison to 2019. US travelers make up close to 85% of the vacation rental guests in Hawaii so that is the main figure to be concerned with if you own a vacation rental.
Hawaiian Island of Choice
Oahu saw the largest increase with an increase in visitors of over 15%. This is more than likely directly attributed to the increase in international travelers as their island of choice is Oahu.
Unfortunately Maui saw the largest decrease in visitors of over 15%. This was more than likely directly attributed to the Lahaina fires.
The fires in Maui lead to a slight increase in tourism for the year for Big Island and Kauai. Big Island and Kauai each saw an increase in tourism of 6% mostly coming during the time period that Maui was shut down.
The numbers of vacationers that the Big Island saw in 2024 is essentially the same as 2019.
Accommodation of Choice
The most alarming statistic and the one to watch is coming years is the increase in guests choosing to stay in hotels and the decrease in guests choosing to stay in vacation rentals.
For 2024, guests choosing to stay in hotels increased by 8% while guests choosing to stay in vacation rentals decreased by 9%. This was expected to some extent as most international travelers choose to stay in hotels and that was the largest increase of travelers in 2024, but the numbers are a bit more than you should expect.
In comparison to 2019 guests choosing to stay in vacation rentals decreased by 14%. There are several factors that could have lead to this change. The first is the implementation of stronger vacation rental policies causing there to be less vacation rentals on the islands. The second being that many of the hotels have converted to rooms to function more like a vacation rental giving an alternative to vacation rentals. While it is a somewhat alarming number, vacation rentals had been on the increase for the prior decade so it was suspected at some point they would begin to level out.
The last figure to look at, and probably the most important, is spending. Spending was up 5% in comparison to 2022 and 17% in comparison to 2019. While these are both great statistics, 2023 finished with the final 5 months seeing visitor spending decreasing in relation to the same months of 2022.
In 2023 if rates were adjusted correctly, most vacation rental homeowners in Hawaii should have seen a decrease in occupancy in comparison to 2023, but an increase in income due to higher lightly rates.
As we look further into 2024 it is expected that there will be some further overall decreases in comparison to 2023, but that most vacation rental homeowners still should be having a better year than 2019. This is hard to truly to conclude at this point because booking lead time is down so it is hard to have a clear picture of what the second through fourth quarters will bring Hawaii.