A $3.50-a-day fee hike on airport rental car users in Hawaii will finance a $497 million plan to build consolidated rental car facilities at four Hawaii airports, according to the Star Advertiser.
The fee, which was $1 per day, will increase to $4.50 starting in September. It will last 20 years or more and will raise an estimated $50 million a year.
Rental car agencies and state airport officials pushed for the fee, with a goal to create close, centralized facilities for auto rental companies. They expect the move to improve customer service and reduce costs. But at least one tourism executive questioned whether Honolulu really needs a new $229 million rental facility. Visitor money spent on that facility is money that otherwise would have gone to restaurants, tour operators and others that cater to tourists, said Reg White, vice president for project development for Paradise Cruise Ltd.
The project includes a planned four-level, $229 million facility at Honolulu Airport located on the site where the Avis, National, Budget, Hertz and Dollar agencies share an open-air lot at one end of the airport. Another $190.5 million project is planned for Kahului Airport, and smaller facilities are planned for Lihue and Hilo.
The additional $3.50-a-day charge represents a fraction of the typical visitor budget. Through May, the average Hawaii visitor from the Western U.S. spent $141.20 a day, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
Similar consolidated rental car facilities exist at mainland airports ranging from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. According to a feasibility study conducted by the state, Honolulu rental agencies will get about one rental car day of business from every five air passengers to Oahu.