Car rental companies suspend bookings as demand soars

If you’re hoping to rent a car, you may be out of luck – some of the country’s biggest car rental companies have temporarily suspended bookings as demand soars.

In Auckland, Hertz, Avis and Budget have suspended new bookings for this week.

“We are all struggling to meet the level of demand that is increasing as part of the recovery process,” said Kevin Walker of the Rental Vehicle Association.

Unused fleets of vehicles were sold at the height of the pandemic. Before the Covid restrictions, there were around 60,000 rental cars in the country. There are now thought to be around 40,000.

“We are currently part of the global supply chain challenges,” Walker said.

“It’s not about a lack of desire or commitment in the market, it’s really about securing the available volume.”

This is a challenge that will increase as the high tourist season approaches.

The number of international visitors has steadily increased since the reopening of borders earlier this year and is expected to reach around half of pre-Covid levels over the summer. It is feared that this will also put a strain on the wider tourism sector.

“The biggest challenge in the tourism industry right now is the workforce,” said Rebecca Ingram of the Tourism Industry Association.

“Having the right people in the right roles in the right place, and that creates constraints.”

Three quarters of tourism businesses are currently recruiting and service levels could be reduced.

“Book ahead,” Ingram said. “If tourism businesses know you are coming, they can grow and prepare for you.”

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