Hawai‘i Rental Car Shortage Prompts Tourism Industry Advice to Travelers
* Updated June 1, 6:05 AM
Executives with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority have issued advice as they deal with an ongoing shortage of rental cars across the state.
During the pandemic, Hawai‘i’s rental car fleet decreased by more than 40%, as travel to the islands stalled amid pandemic-related restrictions and travel quarantines. HTA representatives say the car rental shortage is not limited to the Hawaiian Islands, and is also happening at major vacation destinations nationwide.
With a rapid rise in visitor arrivals in May, and continued traffic anticipated through the summer months, both residents and visitors alike have been reporting challenges in securing rental cars throughout the state.
“Residents are having difficulty finding cars for business and leisure trips to the neighbor islands. Arriving visitors are experiencing the same problems on all islands, including O‘ahu. HTA is aware of this situation and working with state and county officials, as well as the rental car companies, on short- and long-term solutions,” said John De Fries, President and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority in an open letter addressing the issue.
According to De Fries, many vehicles are already reserved at most major rental companies through August, with the daily rental fee for available vehicles often being significantly higher than usual. “We have heard reports that some vehicles are being rented for as much as $700 per day,” he said.
Reports have also surfaced of visitors renting moving trucks and vans for use as leisure vehicles. De Fries said the HTA does not condone this behavior. “These work vehicles are used frequently by Hawai‘i residents and businesses to move their belongings to new homes and offices, and for other essential personal tasks. Having visitors rent these moving vehicles to use for leisure transportation is disrespectful and should not be encouraged by anyone in the travel industry,” he said.
HTA offered a couple of reminders and advice for visitors planning a trip to Hawai‘i through the end of summer.
Travelers are advised to book their rental car first before making the rest of their travel arrangements. “Only rent from legal rental car companies that are licensed to do business in Hawai‘i. Be careful of scams and rental offers that are too good to be true,” said De Fries.
For those that are already headed to Hawai‘i or are here and were unable to secure a rental car, options include taxis, ride shares, buses and shuttles. Additionally, some hotels and resorts provide transportation to major points of interest. The HTA advises that there are also many reputable tour operators that offer designated hotel pick-up and drop-off options.
“Mahalo for your attention and support in helping us to solve the problems being caused by this rental car shortage. HTA will continue to keep the industry updated on its findings and new information that becomes available on this important issue to our residents and visitors,” said De Fries.