Rental car shortages and other transportation woes have become such a problem for Hawaii’s recovering visitor industry that the Hawaii Tourism Authority is supporting the development of shuttles in Kauai and Maui, and has put together a list of alternate ground transportation options for visitors.
HTA also said Tuesday that it is supporting Kauai County’s development of a pilot shuttle program between Lihue Airport and resort areas, which is anticipated to start next month.The agency said it also will support development of a pilot shuttle program for Maui.
HTA spokeswoman Marisa Yamane said HTA is providing $100,000 to Kauai’s shuttle effort, and is still determining the financial support for Maui’s shuttle effort.
HTA said both of the initiatives came out of their Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP) programs, which were aimed at allowing communities to have a voice in the type of visitor industry and tourism experiences that they have in their neighborhoods. HTA said the DMAP process, which came out of HTA’s 2020 to 2025 strategic plan, “focuses on key actions that the community, visitor industry and other sectors deem necessary over a three-year period.”
The Kauai DMAP recommended that tourism decision makers, “Continuously examine the movement of visitors around the island, including popular visitor attractions and beach destinations, and encourage the development of public-private shuttle systems from the airport and in major Visitor Destination Areas (VDAs).”
Tuesday’s steps are a continuation of the unprecedented step HTA President and CEO John De Fries took on May 27 when he issued a message advising would-be Hawaii travelers to book their rental cars before making other reservations.
“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,” De Fries said in the travel advisory.
De Fries said the car rental shortage is not limited to the Hawaiian Islands and is also happening at major vacation destinations nationwide.
But he added that, “Hawaii’s rental car fleet decreased by more than 40% during the pandemic, which is understandable as travel to the islands effectively grinded to a halt for an entire year.”
De Fries said HTA does not “condone visitors renting moving trucks and vans for leisure purposes.”