New restrictions and reduced demand push hotel prices down in Hawaii
After a booming summer where tourism – and hotel rates – strongly returned to pre-pandemic levels, an August and early September filled with new COVID-19 restrictions paved the way for a fall season full of chords.
While fares for travel to Hawaii typically drop during the fall shoulder season, several additional factors will work together to make this year particularly unique.
In August, the COVID-19 Delta variant created a wave of cases in Hawaii, prompting the government to once again limit social gatherings and indoor dining. That in itself was enough to dampen travel demand, but Gov. David Ige doubled when he officially asked tourists not to come to Hawaii later this month.
“Now is not the right time to travel to the islands,” Governor David Ige said on August 23. “I encourage everyone to restrict and cut back on travel to Hawaii.”
In response, this week alone, Oahu launched its “Safe Access Oahu” program that requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to eat out or drink in bars, which are limited to 50% capacity.
It’s been about three weeks since Ige made this harsh proclamation, and with all the media coverage surrounding the announcements of the new restrictions, we’re starting to see what effect it will have and what it will mean for rates and demand.
Hotel rates this fall will be even lower than usual, with demand returning to where it was at the start of the pandemic, according to a new KHON2 report.
The hospitality industry has seen an increase in cancellations and a drop in demand in recent weeks, and experts say it won’t be difficult to find a good deal on hotel rooms between now and the holidays.
“Since the governor called for a halt to non-essential travel, the industry has seen cancellations increase and occupancy rates cut by almost half in some cases,” said Mufi Hannemann, chief executive officer of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “Some hotels have been forced to offer discounts to keep operating.”
Of course, the new restrictions were put in place for a reason, so we encourage all potential travelers to consider the impact of their presence. However, travel is still open in Hawaii, and many leaders in the travel industry are eagerly awaiting business.
If you have no problem following the new vaccination and testing protocols, falling prices could be an attractive reason to visit.
The number of cases has declined over the past two weeks, but experts expect hotel rates to remain low until the start of the holiday season in late November and early December.
So if cases continue to drop, responsible travelers could very well enjoy a trip to the islands this fall – one that will be reasonably safe with fewer crowds and that won’t break the bank.