Tourists face car rental shortage again.jpg

Tourists face car rental shortage again

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

Holidaymakers who were left struggling to hire a car last summer in the Algarve may well face similar difficulties this year if predictions by industry experts are correct.

Nuno Aires, the President of ERTA, the regional tourism board, told the Algarve Resident: “The possibility of a car hire shortage is very real and we must consider it.”

However, he said that this problem was not isolated to just the Algarve region and has been an issue for other tourist destinations during the high season.

Last summer, an investigation by the Algarve Resident (edition July 31, 2009) found that people who had booked cars through rental agencies were being told upon arrival in the Algarve that there were no cars actually available, revealing a car rental shortage in the region.

Problems within the car hire industry have, in recent years, been compounded by the global economic situation which has seen companies unable to reinvest in fleets.

“The economic model of rent a car has changed in recent years with the resale of ex-hire cars no longer being guaranteed. Now, car hire companies are unable to renew their fleets so often and have also had to reduce the number of cars they own,” said Nuno Aires.

A spokesman from car hire company Auto Rent told the Algarve Resident: “We do not believe that other companies will be increasing their fleets this summer so it is highly likely that there will be further shortages this year.” 

The spokesman added: “We are planning to increase our fleet this year. This comes from normal expansion and also because of the increased demand we experienced last year due to tourists being unable to hire cars from other operators.”

Book early

Advice for prospective tourists planning on hiring a car in the Algarve this summer is to book early to avoid high prices and ensure that you are able to hire a car when you arrive.

“Book early, not only to avoid disappointment but to also help the industry to plan ahead.  If hire car companies see that there is a large demand for cars then they may well feel brave enough to invest in their fleet,” said the spokesman from Auto Rent.

This advice was reiterated by car hire website “Usually booking at the last minute would enable you to get a good deal but the opposite happened last year with last minute bookings costing at least double the original price of a rental car.”

However, not all companies and tourists are expected to be affected by shortages this summer.

“Problems may arise mainly for independent travellers and small sized operators who are unable to secure enough cars for customers at the peak of the high season,” said Nuno Aires.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]