Peer-to-peer car rentals are criticized in Hawaii for overtourism and lack of taxation
A Hawaiian lawmaker is introducing a bill that would ban peer-to-peer car rental apps in the state, citing concerns about the industry’s lack of regulation.
Car-sharing programs, such as Turo and Getaround, work similarly to Airbnb, with hosts renting their cars directly to other people.
As was the case in the early days of Airbnb, the car-sharing industry has operated unregulated in many ways, including the fees and taxes that the traditional car rental industry is subject to in the destinations.
“When people go to Enterprise or Hertz and they rent a car, they pay a car rental surcharge and all these sorts of fees that we then use as taxes to improve our infrastructure,” the representative said. State Sean Quinlan. “When they go to Turo, we just don’t get that.”
As well as avoiding certain taxes and surcharges – something that the traditional car rental industry obviously dislikes – critics say peer-to-peer carsharing puts more affordable cars on the road, contributing to overtourism and a reduction spending within the destination.
“The conversation we’ve had over the past two years is that … we don’t want to do high-volume, low-spend tourism,” Quinlan said. “And unfortunately, Turo makes vacationing in Hawaii less expensive.”
Proponents of the peer-to-peer industry say it provides residents with additional income to help with the high cost of living in Hawaii and gives visitors more options.
During the pandemic, peer-to-peer car sharing has grown in popularity in Hawaii and across the country due to a severe shortage of rental cars that has left many travelers unlucky at traditional car rental establishments. (We tried Turo ourselves, but had a bad experience).
Quinlan acknowledged he didn’t think the bill would pass, but said he saw it as an opportunity to start the discussion about peer-to-peer rentals and their impacts on tourism.
In recent years, other states, such as Colorado, have begun to develop regulatory agreements with the carsharing industry. It appears that Hawaii is also beginning this process.