Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks closer at Maui’s hotel scene, hotel development in China, and Wynn’s UAE casino.
Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, August 24. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Amazon Podcasts
Maui’s tourism industry faces an uncertain future as the island recovers from the massive devastation caused by recent wildfires. Maui’s hotels have suffered enormously in the aftermath of the destruction, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.
Habtemariam reports that nearly half of all hotel rooms in Maui were unfilled last week. The island’s hotel occupancy rates were 49% for the week ending August 19, according to commercial real estate information provider CoStar.
Although the Hawaii Tourism Authority is encouraging travelers to visit areas of Maui away from the destruction, Habtemariam writes the state’s tourism leaders are facing a messaging challenge regarding the island. Three major U.S. airlines have cut their number of scheduled flights to Maui over the past week. The wildfires have claimed more than 110 lives in addition to causing billions of dollars of damage.
Next, U.S. hotel companies have viewed China’s economic boom as a vehicle to boost hotel development. However, China’s economic turmoil could derail their plans, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.
Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott are companies that have unveiled major expansion plans for China. Although O’Neill lists several reasons why hotel executives find China enticing, including the potential to expand quickly, he notes the country’s current economic woes are complicating growth plans. Hotel development in China recorded an 8% year-over-year drop in the second quarter.
In addition, Bloomberg Economics Chief Economist Tom Orlik said China’s biggest challenge is that’s working-age population is decreasing. The country population’s fell last year, with O’Neill writing that an aging population will create multi-year problems economically.
Finally, Wynn Resorts expects to obtain a gaming license soon for the United Arab Emirates’ first casino, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.
Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings said recently the company has everything it needs to operate gaming at the Wynn Al Marjan property. Billings added that construction on the casino has already started. Skift reported last November that Wynn had confirmed the property would house a casino. However, Bhutia notes that questions about the casino have lingered to the country’s strict Islamic laws that typically don’t permit activities like gambling.
The Wynn Marjan is scheduled to open in 2027.