Hawaii tourism only expected to increase for summer travel

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Travel is not expected to slow down any time soon, but at least demand for rental cars on Oahu is beginning to level off.

That is not the case at other popular destinations such as Maui.

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The car rental surge at Paradise Rent-A-Car from a couple of weeks ago is on the decline.

The manager of the rental company, Jay LeBaron said they are increasing their car inventory.

LeBaron said, “We’re getting more cars. Other car rental companies are getting more cars so when the fleet expands the prices will do down.” 

A price for a car rental more than doubled at the peak of spring break.

The Manaloha Rent-A-Car owner on Maui Sergio Salaparuta said they are booked through the end of June. He said it is too pricey to ship cars from the mainland, so they are relying on bringing inventory from Oahu.

Lebaron predicts neighbor islands should see more cars available soon.

LeBaron said, “You got to get cars shipped to here, you got to ship them to Maui so it’s extra time for that.”

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is also asking travelers to allow extra time when departing. It advises to show up at least two hours in advance as airports will only get busier come summer.

The Hawaiian Airlines senior vice president for revenue management and network planning Brent Overbeek said they expect a busy summer travel season.

“We’ll have over 100% of our 2019 capacity back by the summer in North America,” Overbeek said. “So we’ve been planning to ramp up,  and the team’s done a really great job around that. “

Even smaller airlines like Mokulele Airlines are starting to see more demand. The Mokulele Airlines Chief of Staff Keith Sisson said they started seeing more travel once COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements were lifted for flyers within Maui County.

Sisson said, “A very first real step in us returning to some semblance of normalcy for the number of passengers that we were used to moving throughout the course of the day.”  

Meanwhile, the Prince Waikiki General Manager Joshua Hargrove said they are also seeing a healthier 50% to 60% capacity. He said they are still not at the 90% booking levels they saw prior the pandemic. He expects more guests to return once tourism from Japan picks back up.

Hargrove said, “June looks like it potentially be stronger than May. So it looks like we’re stair stepping as we keep climbing out of last year.”