Hawaii rental car shortage: Kauai launches website to help travelers find transportation

Jul 24, 2021

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Travel is back, but travel headaches are too, especially if you’ve tried to book a rental car lately. There’s a rental car shortage in many popular destinations, including the state of Hawaii.

But one island appears to have a solution. Kauai’s Office of Economic Development recently launched GetAroundKauai.com to address the ongoing rental car shortage, as first reported by The Garden Island.

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The website features alternate transportation options like shuttles, rideshare and taxis and public transit. There’s also a guide for travelers to learn driving etiquette and other customs for respecting the island.

“Our goal is that this new website will serve as a resource to connect travelers with transportation alternatives, such as airport shuttles, ride-shares and bike rentals,” Nalani Brun, Kauai’s Office of Economic Development director told the Associated Press.

According to Hawaii’s Tourism Authority, the state’s rental car fleet decreased 40% during the pandemic. The shortage of cars has left some travelers resorting to desperate measures like booking U-Haul vans, which, by the way, the tourism authority said it does not condone.

The pandemic changed the travel industry in ways impossible to imagine before 2020. Air traffic is recovering and many countries have started reopening — but it can be really hard to rent a car right now.

Many rental car companies fell on hard financial times shortly after the pandemic started. This caused these companies to quickly sell large portions of their fleet and cancel upcoming orders. In turn, once travel started to pick back up, they were woefully underprepared for a surge in new bookings.

This has had some disastrous repercussions for travelers. Some have shown up at airport rental booths only to find that their previously confirmed reservations were canceled due to lack of supply. Others have taken matters into their own hands by renting U-Haul vans or trucks from home improvement stores. But clearly, that’s not an ideal solution. A shortage can lead to major travel mishaps — especially if you need a rental to get to your final destination.

GetAroundKauai.com aims to not just address the rental car shortage but larger concerns about sustainability, the tourism authority said. The tourism authority said it hoped the website would show travelers that they did not need to rent a vehicle “every day of their trip.”

“During the pandemic, our residents were given a glimpse of what life is like without the influx [of] cars on our roads and there’s no denying how much traffic had improved,” Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami said in a news release. “As we continue to recover, we see the opportunity to do better in managing visitor impact and that includes implementing transportation mode change on our island.”

Featured photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy

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