Pandemic Adversely Affects Maui’s Economy
Maui’s vulnerable tourism-based economy suffered direct hits by the COVID-19 induced global recession this past year. Air passenger arrival counts, which averaged roughly 244,000 per month pre-COVID, dropped to a miniscule 1,900 per month for the eight months following the April 2020 shutdown. This reflected a 74.3% drop in air passenger arrivals for 2020. This decline in visitors in turn adversely affected 2020 hotel occupancy rates which fell from 77.7% to 33.9% during the past year. Unable to operate profitably, many of Maui’s hotels were forced to curtail operations as they waited out the pandemic’s wrath.
As a result of 16.2% of the island’s workforce being employed by the accommodations industry, Maui’s unemployment rate hit a record high of 34.6% in April 2020 and by December 2020 this rate declined to 13.0% as employers started to rehire previously laid off staff. During the past year Maui lost 16,800 jobs, of which, nearly half (7,800) were attributed to the hotel sector and an additional 40% (6,500) attributed to retail job losses.