Tourists are fleeing Ireland due to the exorbitant cost of renting a car, industry insiders have said.
The rising cost of living has become a familiar complaint in Ireland in recent months and even tourists are feeling the pinch with some rental companies which have more than doubled their prices since 2019.
Michael Vaughan, owner of Vaughan Lodge in Lahinch, said things were so bad that visitors started canceling their reservations with him:
“Well, I had people who had reservations,” he explained to The Pat Kenny Show.
“Last minute reservations from America for three, four nights and [they] canceled because they just couldn’t afford to rent a car here and this has happened to me twice in the past few weeks.
“I welcomed Canadian clients and they were offered €7,000 for the seven-day rental of a six- or eight-seater minibus.
“And I had a guest during the week who had a group that dwindled and they no longer needed a bus but when they went to hire one it was €500 a day and the tour operator then went in Scotland, bought a Mercedes, gave them the chauffeured Mercedes for their tour and it was cheaper than hiring the car.”
Shane O’Donoghue, editor of Completecar.ie, says the problem stems from the pandemic when many car hire companies sold half their fleets as the number of international tourists visiting Ireland plummeted.
However, even taking this into account, he believes that current prices are excessive:
“I still don’t quite understand how this leads to such a dramatic increase in the cost of car rental,” he mused.
“If they don’t have enough cars, fine, they can’t provide enough cars, but what seems to be happening is they just raise the prices.”
As in many other ways, things are different in Northern Ireland and Mr O’Donoghue said a shopping tourist can get a lot more for their money if they hire a car from an airport up there :
“Using the same companies, big companies, [I] I checked Belfast and Dublin prices and there is a significant difference for car hire,” he explained.
“Same situation, same car hire company and same time frame… I think I picked a golf car for a week at the end of June and it was something like €1,400.
“For the same period, the same car in Belfast, it was just over half…and that’s a huge difference.”
“It will probably encourage some people to go through Belfast, for example.”
Tourism is one of Ireland’s most valuable industries and there are growing fears that it could deter people from returning:
“I think the big point here is it’s going to hurt tourism with this and the mess at Dublin airport with the queues, there’s going to be people coming here and going, ‘Oh I don’t don’t know about Ireland’, Mr O’Donoghue said.
“And they’re going to go back to America or Canada or Europe saying, ‘You know what, Ireland is not a great place to vacation.
“I think that’s something we need to look at.”
Main image: A man in a car. Photo by: RioPatuca / Alamy Stock Photo