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There’s a financial strain to visiting hotspots for tourists, but Hawaiian businesses are taking advantage of the booming Asian market and increased connectivity while they’re still in the limelight.

Hawaii’s hotel industry set records for room rates in February as more tourists traveled to the islands from around the world, according to a monthly study issued by a private consulting company.

The average rate hotels charged for their rooms surged 13 percent to $233.30 in February, according to the study by Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors. That’s the highest average daily rate ever recorded for the month of February.

Average daily room rates on Oahu hit an all-time high of $209.18. No room rate records were broken on the Big Island, but they still rose nearly 10 percent to $222.05.

Joseph Toy, president of Hospitality Advisors LLC, predicted hotel revenue will set a record during the first quarter of the year.

“We’re seeing a boom in the travel industry nationally and in fact globally,” said Joseph Toy, president of Hospitality Advisors LLC. “Coming out of the global recession, there’s been a lot of pent up demand for travel overall. Throughout the country and most of these destinations, we’re seeing a bump.”

Hawaii in particular is benefiting from the return of more Japanese visitors and growing numbers of travelers from South Korea and China, he said. More Australians are also coming to Hawaii to take advantage of their nation’s strong currency.

A rise in international travel tends to give Oahu a disproportionate boost because Honolulu’s airport is the only one that currently receives flights from overseas.

In Waikiki, 91 percent of hotel rooms were occupied during February, the highest rate in the state.

But other islands showed gains. On Kauai, occupancy climbed more than 7 percentage points to 82.4 percent as airlines added more direct flight seats to Lihue from Oakland, San Jose and Seattle.

As for the Big Island, occupancy gained 6.4 percentage points to 78 percent. Airlines also added seats to the isle, while Big Island hotels attracted travelers with deals and packages, Toy said.

Kauai and the Big Island lagged other islands for much of last year, so their strong performances are noteworthy, Toy said.

Smith Travel and Hospitality Advisors surveys hotels across the state each month to compile data for its monthly report. For February, the study included 159 properties, accounting for 48,201 rooms. That’s about 85 percent of all Hawaii lodging properties with 20 or more rooms.

The study excludes bed and breakfasts, youth hostels, single-family vacation rentals and other lodgings that have fewer than 20 rooms.

Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Tags: hawaii, rates

Photo credit: The Waikiki Hotel in Oahu, Hawaii as seen from the ocean. Daniel Ramirez / Flickr

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