Could making it harder to rent a car help control tourism? Maui lawmakers hope so.

They’re considering a cap on rental cars, but not everyone is on board.
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:48 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 15, 2021 at 7:10 PM HST
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rows of rental cars sit idle near the Kahului Airport on Maui in an overflow lot. They are on standby and ready for another visitor boom.

However, backlash over the influx of tourists on the Valley Isle this past summer has some lawmakers now looking to limit rental cars on the island.

“That way we can at least know how much there is total and have some sort of control over it in tandem with what the infrastructure can handle,” said Maui County Councilwoman Tamara Paltin.

Paltin says establishing a cap can help relieve stress on the island’s infrastructure, communities and resources.

Congressman Ed Case supports the idea.

“The demand for coming to Hawaii has been going up and we just chase it with supply — supply of more rooms, more cars, more gates at the airport,” Case said.

“We got to turn that around and say, ‘This is what the supply is that we have to offer, and the demand can adjust to that supply.’”

Gary Fernandez is a security guard at Fleet Services Hawaii and watches over the rental car lots. He says there needs to be a balance.

“Visitors are a good thing. If not, we wouldn’t have a job, us guys out here, so we need them to come and rent our cars,” Fernandez said.

Rental car companies bring in lots of revenue to the state, especially on Maui.

“Talked to some folks from state Transportation and they described Maui as the ‘crown jewel’ because we have so many rental cars,” said Paltin.

Paltin and Case say the revenue can still be collected other ways.

“We would likely have higher prices for tourists coming which would maintain the economy, which would maintain jobs. We would just have fewer tourists,” Case said.

“If you’re gonna come and rent a car, have this extra strain on our infrastructure, then are you going to pay for it? Pay more to keep your rental car at the hotel? Pay more to park around town?” said Paltin.

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