Hawaii tourism

Hawaii Tourism Authority donates $100,000 to Kauai Shuttle, offers other aid after rental car shortage

Rental car shortages and other transportation issues have become such a problem for Hawaii’s visitor industry that the Hawaii Tourism Authority is supporting the development of shuttles in Kauai and Maui and has compiled a list alternative ground transportation options for visitors.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Tuesday it had created a list of alternative ground transportation for visitors, who are still experiencing a shortage of rental cars. Travelers can find the listing here.

HTA also said Tuesday it supports Kauai County’s development of a pilot shuttle program between Lihue Airport and resort areas, which is expected to begin next month. The agency also said it would also support the development of a pilot shuttle program for Maui.

HTA spokeswoman Marisa Yamane said HTA is providing $100,000 to the Kauai shuttle effort and is still determining financial support for the Maui shuttle effort.

HTA said both initiatives stemmed from their Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP) programs, which aimed to enable 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, derived from 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 policy makers “continuously review the movement of visitors around the island, including popular tourist attractions and beach destinations, and encourage the development of public-private shuttle systems from the airport and in major visitor destination areas (VDAs)”.

The Maui DMAP included a section on developing and promoting initiatives to improve the experience of transportation and ground travel.

Tuesday’s steps are a continuation of the unprecedented step that HTA President and CEO John De Fries took on May 27 when he posted a message advising potential travelers from Hawaii to book their rental cars before making other reservations.

“Many vehicles are already reserved at most major rental companies until August, with daily rental charges for available vehicles often being significantly higher than usual. We have heard reports of some vehicles being rented for up to $700 per day,” De Fries said in the travel advisory.

De Fries said the rental car shortage is not limited to the Hawaiian Islands and is also occurring in major vacation destinations across the country.

But he added that “Hawaii’s rental car fleet has shrunk by more than 40% during the pandemic, which is understandable since travel to the islands has effectively stopped for an entire year.”

De Fries said HTA “does not tolerate visitors renting moving trucks and vans for recreational purposes.”