Timeshare Should be Considered in Hawaii's Tourism Recovery and Future

Timeshare Should be Considered in Hawaii's Tourism Recovery and Future

As we struggle to adjust to our "new normal" as a community and work through our economic challenges, many are considering how our visitor industry should look coming out of our economic slumber. As former Governor Ariyoshi challenged us to think through decades ago, what is the Hawaii that we all prefer? Over the course of the last few months, with tourism at a standstill and folks spending time away from the workplace, we have come to appreciate the uncrowded streets, beaches, parks, malls, and other public spaces. And, discussion has ensued as to whether "less is more" in terms of the volume of visitors and what kind of visitor is preferred. Timesharing should be considered as one part of the equation.

Why timeshare? Studies over decades have shown that the timeshare visitor has a higher annual income, is more highly educated, is more likely to return to Hawaii, and spends more outside of the resort than other types of visitors. This equates to more money being spent in Hawaii by a lesser number of visitors. Hawaii would enjoy the same economic benefits from fewer people, thus placing less strain on our precious infrastructure and resources. 

Why timeshare? Timeshare resorts are more resilient. When disaster hits, they are the first to return to operation, thus providing accelerated recovery to impacted communities. This was proven out when Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992. Kauai was devastated. It was the timeshare industry that came back first. This is because the visitors that stay in those resorts are primarily owners who take pride in their property. They wanted to come to their second home, and made sure it was rebuilt as quickly as possible. While hotel occupancies were down in the 20 to 30 percent range statewide after Iniki, timeshare resort occupancy enjoyed 70 to 80 percent occupancy in the four months after Iniki hit. And on the island of Maui, occupancy post-Iniki actually went up 1 percent year-over-year! 

So as our elected and appointed officials contemplate resiliency, sustainability and economic diversification over the course of the next few months, it would behoove all to consider timeshare as an alternative that provides (i) a stable and preferred visitor base, (ii) resiliency, and (iii) proven stability over the long term.

Our timeshare industry presently comprises just 15 percent of the available inventory. If that percentage can be increased to 25 to 30 percent, it would help to provide a hedge against the impacts of catastrophic events like the one we are currently living through. These are the resorts that will come back more quickly, and would offer the promise of a quick rebound, thus providing our people with jobs and an income to support themselves and their families. 

Let's be aggressive to create the future that we prefer. Let's take steps now so that when the next calamity hits Hawaii, we can face it with confidence knowing that economic vitality will be just around the corner.

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