During times of economic downturn many aspects of travel may be unexpectedly affected. We have been accustomed to the easy availability of cheap flights, accommodation, and rental cars and booking them all online as a ‘DIY’ holiday – often at the last minute – from the comfort of our homes.
However, during the summer of 2009 something new transpired to affect the troubled tourism industry. Many holidaymakers heading for tourist hotspots in southern Europe, notably popular destinations in Spain and Portugal, were caught out over a critical shortage of rental cars. There were reports of frantic travellers (even those who had made reservations) arriving at their destination airport and being told that there were no available cars, or being forced to upgrade to a larger or more luxurious vehicle at vastly inflated prices. The few cars that were available were renting at prices two or three times higher than normal.
Because of the recession, and the presumption that fewer people would be going abroad on holiday, a drastically reduced amount of leased cars were made available to the rental companies in places like Spain and Portugal during the peak summer travel period of 2009. The demand for rental cars remained strong, however, surprising everyone in the industry and causing headaches for the car rental companies – as well as crushing disappointment and worry for thousands of holidaymakers. It transpired, against many predictions, that one of the last things people were willing to give up was their annual Mediterranean summer holiday! The gloomy UK summer also contributed to the problem as many sun-deprived Britons decided to make last minute bookings for flights and accommodation – only to find out after the fact that it was impossible to book a rental car.
If you feel the need to get away from the rat race for some peace and quiet and are tempted to book that romantic holiday villa situated in a remote and isolated location, it would be wise to secure your rental car well in advance – and perhaps even before you book anything else. It might also be worthwhile doing some research to find out if there are adequate means of public transportation in the area, and the cost of a taxi fare to get you around – just in case.
Travel Insurance is an essential part of planning any trip or holiday and it is folly to travel without it. However, travel insurance is unlikely to be of any help if you are left stranded or out of pocket because of having to cancel or change flights or arrangements due to the unavailability of rental cars at your destination. We can only hope that the problems of the summer of 2009 will not be repeated, but why take a chance in the future. Plan ahead and check the availability of rental cars before booking your holiday!