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Vacation Rentals Have Nearly Tripled in 10 Years, Maui Leads State

February 8, 2018, 12:47 PM HST · Updated February 8, 12:52 PM
Nikki Schenfeld · 24 Comments
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Visitor accommodation units statewide increased to 80,336 units (+1.6%) year-over-year, the largest total ever recorded for the State of Hawai‘i, according to the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory released by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

The annual data of existing and planned visitor accommodation units statewide showed growth in three of the five categories reported, with increases in hotel rooms (+1.2% to 44,431), timeshare units (+3.2% to 11,062) and vacation rental units (+3.9% to 12,659) compared to 2016.

Condo hotel units declined slightly (-0.4% to 10,875) and there was a decrease in units provided by apartments, bed & breakfasts, hostels and other miscellaneous accommodations (-3.5% to 1,309).

The number of Vacation Rental units in the state increased over the previous year (3.9%). Maui has the largest inventory of Vacation Rental units with a 30.5% share of the state’s total supply. The majority of Vacation Rental units were represented by VR Condo units, representing 91% of all reported Vacation Rental units.

The overall number of lodging units on Maui totaled 21,250 units. Hotel Rooms continued to account for the largest share of Maui’s visitor units in 2017, with about 36.4% of the supply. VRUs represented about 25.8% of Maui’s visitor accommodation units in 2017, as VRU’s share of Maui’s total supply of visitor units has increased in recent years (see below).

The majority of Maui’s visitor units were in the Luxury and Deluxe price classes as the bulk of Maui’s visitor accommodation supply consists of high-end properties in the luxury regions of Wailea and Lahaina – Kā‘anapali – Nāpili – Kapalua. The data showed Luxury and Deluxe priced visitor units combined represented 79.4% of the supply.

Nearly half of Hawai‘i’s visitor accommodation units are on O‘ahu (47.9%), with the majority in Waikiki. Maui has the second-highest percentage of units (26.5%), followed by the island of Hawai‘i (14%) and Kaua‘i (11%). Moloka‘i and Lana‘i combined for the fewest units (0.6%).

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“The report shows that Hawai‘i has an effective mix of accommodation offerings that is meeting the lodging interests of travelers coming from around the world,” said Jennifer Chun, HTA Director of Tourism Research. “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.”

Chun noted the following updates for Maui in the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory:

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas opened with 195 timeshare units in April 2017, increasing the island’s total timeshare units by 6.9%.

Individually Advertised Units Adds Uncertainty to Vacation Rental Total

Included as an appendix to the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory Report is a supplemental study, the 2017 Individually Advertised Units in Hawai‘i Report, which analyzes data from AirBnB, HomeAway, and TripAdvisor. The study, which has been done annually since 2014, utilizes point-in-time data extractions of popular vacation rental booking websites to try and better assess this rapidly evolving type of accommodations.

Maui had the largest number of individually advertised vacation rental units in 2017, with 13,408 units. Maui also saw the most growth compared to 2016, with the number of units increasing by 24.4%.

HTA says that in recent years, technology has significantly impacted Hawai‘i’s visitor accommodations supply by facilitating the rental of individual properties, which has led to unprecedented growth in the number of vacation rental units statewide.

“If all vacation rentals could be accurately identified and counted, the overall total of Hawai‘i’s visitor accommodation units would be greater in the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory report,” said Chun. “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 Hawai‘i’s brand as a travel destination.”

The rapid increase of independently managed vacation rental units includes many that are unlicensed, unidentified and not accounted for in HTA’s Visitor Plant Inventory.

Chun commented, “The current survey methodology used for the Visitor Plant Inventory is insufficient with regards to vacation rentals because individually advertised units do not have identifying information.”

Island maps showing the location of individually advertised units by zip code, as reflected in the supplemental study, shows the extent of vacation rental units statewide, particularly the density of units found in resort areas. Many vacation rentals have operated for decades and are accounted for in the 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory report.

“Due to the lack of unique identifying information associated with each vacation rental unit on these booking sites, it is not possible to eliminate much of the double and triple counting that occurs when a property is listed on multiple sites. Without this information, the true impact of the positives and negatives created by vacation rentals in Hawaii is unknown.

“A benefit of having comprehensive regulations for alternative accommodations is that travel consumers seeking this type of lodging in Hawaii can make reservations with confidence, knowing that the laws of the state are being followed. They can be assured that the units being rented actually exist and are also clean and safe.”

HTA’s 2017 Visitor Plant Inventory was produced by Kloninger & Sims Consulting LLC. Data was gathered by surveying properties in HTA’s Visitor Plant Inventory database and identified using a variety of sources. The report is posted on HTA’s website.

Click here to see the full report.

Nikki Schenfeld
Nikki joined the Maui Now team in 2016 as a writer/reporter. Originally from Chicago, she has had internships with CBS2 Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago where she had the opportunity to interview some of Chicago's best athletes. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. She moved to Maui in 2013.

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