Tourists are fleeing Ireland and canceling their vacations due to the exorbitant cost of car rentals.
Desperate tour operators are even buying cars and reselling them after the tourists have left because the price of car rental is so prohibitive. Others rent buses rather than letting their customers pay huge car rental fees.
Some tourists are quoted at nearly €20,000 for a week’s car hire, others have canceled tours after being told they would be charged €7,000 a week or more.
As inflation soars, experts are now calling for a government investigation into price gouging from car rental companies and say it is adding to the stress tourists face after the ‘nightmare’ of long queues and missed flights at Dublin Airport last month.
Tourism Ireland told the Irish Daily Mail yesterday that there was “undoubtedly” a problem, with no easy answer in sight.
Michael Vaughan, who runs the Vaughan Lodge Hotel in Lahinch, County Clare, said one of his clients, a Cork-based tour operator, had to buy a second-hand van in Scotland because it was cheaper than the €500. -daily cost of car rental, it was quoted. The tour operator bought the minivan for €7,000 and then sold it after his guests left.
Mr Vaughan said a separate group of eight Canadians coming to his hotel had been quoted €7,000 for just over a week’s minibus hire.
“It would be cheaper to buy a used car at that price. In the end, they hired a bus and a driver, which was an amazing experience, and it was much cheaper than hiring a car,” he said.
One of Mr Vaughan’s US clients, who had booked through a Dublin-based golf travel agency, canceled a trip to Ireland ten days before his arrival after finding out how much it would cost to hire a car.
Another customer from Chicago, who comes to Ireland six or seven times a year, told Mr Vaughan that an employee of a rental car company laughed when he said he wanted to hire a car.
Mr Vaughan called for government intervention and said car hire should be seen as a ‘national tourism asset that must be protected’.
He said many companies sold their cars during the pandemic and raised prices on a much smaller fleet.
“This comes at a time when the golf industry is coming back for individual golfers. I don’t know why the government hasn’t put in place a post Covid tourism recovery plan,” he said.
On Twitter this week, Liveline presenter Joe Duffy posted a car hire quote from Dublin Airport, showing it would cost £18,703.50 to hire a car for the week between July 30 and August 6, and described him as part of the “Rip Off Republic”. ‘ mentality.
John O’Farrell, owner and manager of Pax Guest House in Dingle, which was recently rated one of the best in the world by Tripadvisor, said two guests canceled their June trip this week because they could not rent car. . Another guest had received a quote of €800 to extend his car rental for just one day.
And another client had found it cheaper to buy a used car and insure it, rather than hire a car for his extended stay of four to six weeks.
“Guests always come to us, but it leaves a bitter taste,” he said.
Mr O’Farrell said he sympathized with the car hire workers tasked with handing over the keys to tourists.
“I’m sure they hear all the complaints, but who I’m really sorry for is the guests, because it’s very, very, very expensive,” he said.
Shane O’Donoghue, editor of car advice website Completecar.ie, said his online research yesterday revealed car hire at Belfast airport was half the price of car hire at Belfast Airport. Dublin Airport.
He said he tried two car rental companies, using identical dates and models to illustrate the huge gap between car rental prices in the north and south.
He also looked at car rental prices in Barcelona, Paris and other European cities, using identical criteria and found that they were also cheaper than in Dublin.
‘Car rental companies in these cities are also said to have reduced their rental fleets during Covid, so why are they cheaper than Dublin?’ He asked.
Mr O’Donoghue said the situation was a ‘mess’ and hurt tourism, as tourists opting for car hire in Northern Ireland were likely to change their plans and spend more time in the North than in the Republic.
“This is going to significantly affect Ireland’s tourism reputation, so it’s time the government stepped in and looked into what’s going on,” he said.
The Car Rental Council of Ireland said yesterday that market forces dictate the cost of car hire.
A spokesman for Tourism Ireland said: ‘In Ireland it appears the higher prices are due to car hire companies being particularly hard hit by the global shortage of new vehicle supply.
Dermott Jewell of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland said: “The prices quoted are shockingly and decidedly unaffordable.”