The Maui Hotel & Lodging Association just asked hotels for their projected occupancy over the next six weeks. As the industry group said, “the numbers are Covid-low” on West Maui.
“In West Maui, where Lahaina is, it’s in the three to four percent range next week. It climbs higher every week as we move closer to Thanksgiving and the very busy holiday season. But it only ever hits the mid-30s, with a high of 35.5%.” That is according to MHLA Exec. Director Lisa Paulson.
The reason for the hotel organization releasing this information is to encourage the state to continue to move forward with the reopening of all of West Maui on October 8, less than a week from now.
Maui and statewide tourism numbers have tanked.
Even with with first part of August data predating the fire, visitors statewide dropped precipitously, in part due to terrible messaging from the state requesting visitors to leave Maui. That was exacerbated by global news media, which portrayed Hawaii as having burned down. We know that from questions we were repeatedly asked while traveling in Europe this summer.
And while some modest visitor increases were seen on other islands following the fire, it in no way made up for the losses on Maui.
State reports Maui visitor arrivals and spending worst since Covid.
On Maui, August numbers sank, with spending down by half and visitor count down by even more. Hawaii Tourism Director Jimmy Tokioka said last week that just “112,259 visitors arrived on Maui in August 2023, the lowest count since February 2021. Visitor spending of $246.7 million on Maui was the lowest since March 2021.”
This followed last week’s news that October 8 will only be the first phase of reopening.
Maui Mayor Richard Bissen confirmed last week, as anticipated, that West Maui will, by necessity, open in phases. While not unexpected, this prospect was never revealed when Hawaii’s governor, Josh Green, announced the October 8 date, leading to the misunderstanding about West Maui’s reopening plans.
On October 8, the only properties opening in Phase One are in the northmost area of West Maui. That includes the Ritz-Carlton, and Maui Kapalua to Kahana Villa. The other two phases, which you can see in our recent Maui update, are not scheduled until an assessment is done following the phase before. And here is the reason why below:
Maui displaced resident housing vs. visitor accommodations.
There is an ongoing need to provide housing for the eight thousand living in temporary shelters at many hotel properties. The phased approach is intended to mitigate issues of visitors returning and residents having a place to live. Longer-term solutions to the lack of housing on Maui are yet to be addressed.
There’s going to be a lot more information forthcoming shortly. So stand by. Please let us know your thoughts.