HONOLULU (KHON2) — Summer tourism brought high demand for car rentals across the state, driving up prices with the shortage of cars. Some business owners said the busy summer taught them to better prepare for the upcoming holiday travel season.
Lahaina Auto Rentals’ Brian McEwan said business has significantly slowed down since the summer, although the business they saw during the previous months allowed them to grow their fleet.
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“We had seven originally,” McEwan said, “and because we were making more money than usual we were able to purchase one SUV, and then the next month we got two more full size cars.”
McEwan said they are using the months leading up to the holidays to reassess and prepare for winter travel by updating their website to make it easier to book a car.
“It’s more user friendly now,” McEwan said. “There’s a lot of different shortcuts that you can just plug in certain things and it’ll pop up what exactly what you’re looking for versus doing everything manually.”
KHON2 News spoke with other locally owned car rental companies, and owners said they are likely not going to increase their fleet for the holidays. A couple of car rental business owners said the car chip shortage and delays in the assembly line are making it difficult for them to purchase more cars.
However, due to the impacts many locals experienced on the road from tourism and car rentals, Councilwoman Alice Lee is considering adding a tax on rental cars.
“This recognizes the impacts, the many negative impacts of the uses of rental cars,” Lee said. “The uses of rental cars are much more intense than the regular going to work and coming home.”
In the meantime, McEwan said more calls are starting to come in to book towards the holidays.
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“We know what to prepare for now,” McKewan said, “and maybe things will go a little bit more smoother next time.”