Hawaii Hotel Execs Call Business Downturn Worse Ever - Most Popular News Story - KITV Honolulu
HONOLULU -- Some of Hawaii's major hotel executives are calling this the worst business downturn they have ever experienced with fewer rooms filled than ever, especially on the neighbor islands.
Hawaii hotel employees are being laid off and hundreds have had their work hours reduced.
The latest occupancy figures show tourists are filling less than half the hotel rooms on the Big Island's Kohala coast.
Waikiki hotels are less than 75 percent full. Empty sands and idle beach boys tell the story.
Starwood, which hires the most hotel workers in the state at its Sheraton and Weston hotels, said room occupancy this low is historic.
"When I think of all the bad periods we have had whether after 9/11 or SARS, by far, this is the worst from the standpoint of the length of it and our inability to see how it ends," said Keith Vierra, Starwood Hotels senior vice president.
The trouble began in April when thousands of airline seats here were lost when Aloha and ATA went out of business and now the economy worsening month by month.
Through layoffs and attrition Starwood has lost 120 of its hotel management employees which is almost 20 percent.
What doesn't show up as unemployment or layoffs are the hundreds of hotel workers across the state who are still working but have had their hours drastically cut because of the downturn.
"I think they are suffering financially, seriously," Vierra said.
Hotel workers union Local 5 said Hilton Hawaiian Village has told a fourth of housekeepers not to come in until there is work.
Outrigger hotels said there have been layoffs but would not say how many. Also Duty Free, one of the biggest retailers serving hotel visitors, has laid off 130 of its 800 employees.