Nancy Cook Lauer West Hawaii Today email@example.com
The county Planning Department has finally been able to process almost all the approximately 4,000 short term vacation rental applications it received following last year’s implementation of a mandatory registration system.
But it may be months before the newly approved rentals — or any short-term rentals other than hotels — will be allowed to operate, under emergency proclamations from Gov. David Ige and Mayor Harry Kim. Until travel restrictions are lifted, the rentals can be used only to house tenants who were already there when the restrictions went into effect or workers of essential businesses or operations, such as first responders.
Vacation rental occupancy statewide was just 5% in April, the first month after the March 26 mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers, according to data provided by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. That compares to 8.9% occupancy at hotels, which were allowed to stay open, under the rules.
Kauai, with a 10% occupancy rate, and Kona, with 6.4%, topped the state in occupancy rates. Hilo/Honokaa, the only other Big Island breakdown, was at the low end of the state with 4.9%. That’s well below the Big Island’s 64.7% occupancy in April, 2019.