.


State briefs for August 1

Hawaii’s hotel industry sees gains for first half of year

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s hotel industry had the highest revenue per available room and the highest average daily rate among its competitors in top U.S. markets for the first half of this year, according to a report by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

ADVERTISING


Revenue increased 8 percent to $229 per night for the first half of this year and the average daily rate grew by 6 percent to $280, compared with the same period last year.

“For Hawaii to earn the number one ranking in the U.S. in both RevPAR and ADR as the market is rising nationally is a significant achievement for the state,” said Jennifer Chun, the authority’s tourism research director.

Most U.S. markets experienced revenue growth for this year, Chun said. Hawaii also ranked second in the country for occupancy at nearly 82 percent, falling behind New York but equal to Orlando, Florida, according the Hotel Performance Report released last week.

“Maui’s performance was very strong with Wailea being exceptional,” Chun said. “The island of Hawaii benefited from five good months to begin the year, which offset a downturn in occupancy during June while Kilauea volcano was continuing to erupt.”

For last month, hotel revenue in the state increased by nearly 5 percent to $227, and the daily rate also grew by about 5 percent to $277, Chun said.

Maui ranch uses koa trees to fight invasive plant species

WAILUKU, Maui — A Maui ranch has planted thousands of acacia koa trees to help stave off the spread of an invasive plant species.

The Haleakala Ranch has planted nearly 15,000 koa trees in the past three years to impede the growth of the thorny gorse shrub.

The European plant was introduced to Hawaii in the late 1800s, said Jordan Jokiel, the ranch’s vice president of land management. Lacking local predators, the species has flourished, creating impenetrable thickets that harm native plant growth. The shrub has covered more than 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of the ranch’s mountain side pastures, he said.

The ranch has used cattle to consume and fight other invasive plants, but cows aren’t effective on the shrub, said Greg Friel, the ranch’s livestock manager.

“When that plant is very young, the leaves are very fleshy,” Friel said. “But it hardens up very quickly and every little leaf becomes a thorn. By the time that thing is a foot tall, they physically can’t eat it.”

To contain the shrub in the past, the ranch introduced goats and sheep. Workers also mowed the shrubs and use herbicides. The ranch then decided to take a different approach and began planting koa in 2015.

“We’re just trying to shade it out by planting native koa trees over gorse to try to shade it out and reduce its competitive edge,” Jokiel said. “Gorse doesn’t do really well in a shady environment. It will grow, but not as vigorous.”

The trees can also be harvested and sold for use in hardwood products.

“Our plan is to try to keep planting small amounts until we get really good at it,” Jokiel said. “We’ll be able to maintain a standing forest hopefully of koa, because we plant regularly every year. When we harvest, we can just replant. It is potentially very sustainable.”

ROTC cadets found after getting lost in Wahiawa course

HONOLULU — Two visiting Army ROTC cadets were rescued after spending the night lost in a jungle warfare course in Wahiawa.

The Army’s 25th Infantry Division spokesman, Lt. Col. Curt Kellogg, says the two college students became lost while participating Saturday in land navigation training in Schofield Barracks East Range.

The cadets were in the jungle operations training course, which is about 6 square miles (15.5 square kilometers) in size and covered with dense vegetation.

The Army launched a search that included about 200 soldiers and Army vehicles and helicopters. Kellogg says Honolulu police and firefighters assisted in the search.

ADVERTISING


The Army searched overnight and into the morning until the two cadets were found Sunday at about 11 a.m.

Kellogg declined to say where the cadets go to school, but says it was not in Hawaii.