Here's how the pandemic has forced Hawaii tourists to drive around in U-Haul vans

One industry that has struggled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is rental car companies. And according to Hawaii News Now, the struggles have gotten so bad that many tourists in Hawaii have to turn to U-Haul instead of the traditional rental firms.

The reason? They got rid of too many cars and don't have an easy way of buying a new fleet.

"The uptick from tourism, the uptick from companies opening back up, from the economy restarting — everybody seems to need a vehicle," said Kaleo Alau, the president of U-Haul Marketing. "Most of the time they're saying that they can't get a vehicle from any of the rental spots. They're all sold out." According to the article, at one point last month the cheapest conventional rental car option on the island of Maui was a Toyota Camry — priced at $722 a day.

According to Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post, the problem is simple: rental companies had to sell off their fleets at the height of the pandemic to avoid maintenance costs on inventory that wasn't generating a profit — but there is now a semiconductor shortage preventing them from building their fleets back to meet demand as tourism comes back.

"Sometimes there are people who are like can I rent this vehicle for a month?" said Alau. "And I just tell them that's not going to happen."