Lawmakers consider banning peer-to-peer car rentals amid concern of overtourism

Lawmakers consider banning peer-to-peer car rentals amid concern of overtourism

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban peer-to-peer car sharing programs like Turo, saying that it is not regulated and can lead to overtourism.

The app has been a life-saver for tourists who struggle to find traditional rental cars — especially during the pandemic where Hawaii saw a shortage of vehicles. Turo has allowed many locals to bring in additional income, renting out their cars to visitors.

State Rep. Sean Quinlan was one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill. He doesn’t expect it to pass but said it’s a signal to the industry that discussion over taxation and regulation is needed.

“When people go to Enterprise or Hertz, and they rent a car, they’re paying a rental car surcharge and all those sorts of fees that we then use as tax dollars to improve our infrastructure,” Quinlan explained. “When they go to Turo, we’re simply not getting that.”

Quinlan represents the North Shore and said his district sees the most impacts from overtourism.

“The conversation we’ve been having over the last two years is that we don’t want to go back to 11 million visitors a year, we don’t want to do high volume, low spending tourism,” said Quinlan. “And unfortunately, Turo does make it cheaper to vacation in Hawaii.”

Meanwhile, those who use Turo disagree with the measure.

“You can’t really stop somebody from coming here by taking away their rental car,” said Turo Host Kaipo Cabanting. “They’re going to come here regardless of if they want to or not.”

Cabanting has been a Turo host for almost a year.

With the cost of living in Hawaii so high, he said the extra income has been helpful.

“Also, able to catch up on bills and stay ahead of bills and not have to worry and not stress on that part,” said Cabanting.

The car sharing program has also benefited Turo hosts like Aakara Wiegand on Kauai.

She said she was booked all of last year.

“I have been on Social Security Disability for many years and entering into the Turo platform allowed me for the first time in many years to have a sustainable income where it wasn’t actually causing harm to my body in order to facilitate the work,” said Wiegand.

Wiegand doesn’t want to see Turo completely banned in the state but agrees with a need for taxation and regulation.

“That seems completely legitimate and appropriate,” said Wiegand. “And my experience with Turo, so far, is they’ve been very professional, and they’re very committed in their communication response to making it work for everybody.”

In a statement, Turo said they’ve been working with policymakers for several years on how to establish a regulatory framework for peer-to-peer car sharing.

“We are hopeful that Hawaii legislators will see this bill for what it is — a blatant attempt at stifling innovation, economic opportunity, and consumer choice for people in the Aloha state.”

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