Vacation rentals lead state’s accommodations growth

The number of units available for visitor accommodations in Hawaii hit a record high in 2017, according to a new report from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Statewide visitor accommodation units totaled 80,336, a 1.6% increase over 2016 and the largest total ever recorded in the Aloha State.

The 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory report from HTA breaks down visitor accommodations into five categories: hotel rooms, timeshare units, vacation rental units, condo hotel units and, in one category together, apartments, bed and breakfasts, hostels and other miscellaneous units. There were gains for hotel rooms, timeshare units and vacation rental units, which registered the largest percentage increase (3.9%).

Hotel rooms constitute 55% of the visitor accommodations stock in the state, with vacation rentals coming in next with 15.8% of the market. Oahu boasts nearly half (48%) of the available visitor accommodations in the state, with Maui counting just over a quarter (26.5%).

"The report shows that Hawaii has an effective mix of accommodation offerings that is meeting the lodging interests of travelers coming from around the world," Jennifer Chun, HTA director of tourism research, said in a statement. "From the properties that we can survey and assess, overall growth in 2017 was modest highlighted by increases in the supply of hotel rooms and timeshare units."

The report also evaluated the supply of vacation rentals and individually advertised units.

"If all vacation rentals could be accurately identified and counted, the overall total of Hawaii’s visitor accommodation units would be greater in the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory report," Chun added. "Until all vacation rentals are being accounted for in the report, the tourism industry will never fully know the impact this segment of accommodations is having on the quality of Hawaii’s brand as a travel destination."

A supplemental study reviewed individually managed vacation rental units advertised on websites such as HomeAway and Airbnb, but because units move on and off the market during the course of the year and many are advertised on multiple sites, it is difficult to arrive at exact figures.

"This supplemental study tells the tourism industry that searching these booking sites is unreliable for determining how many vacation rentals are being offered throughout the islands," Chun said in the release. "The total number of individually advertised units is likely overstated."

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