Car rental companies sell out as tourism picks up

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Car rental companies say business is booming. – Photo: File

Finding a rental car in Cayman right now can be difficult, as the reopening of the islands’ borders brings an influx of tourists buying vehicles.

Calls to all the main rental companies on the island over the weekend revealed that most were unable to provide vehicles at short notice as their cars were booked.

Since Cayman eased restrictions on unvaccinated children visiting here, lifted the requirement for post-arrival COVID testing and welcomed return flights from more airlines from the United States, planes full of tourists have landed and these passengers are looking for vehicles in which to explore the island.

Jordyn Foster, director of Avis, said the company has seen a surge in the number of tourists renting cars, to the point that there have been weeks recently when stock has run out, including this week.

“There’s been quite a big influx already,” Foster said. “Once [restrictions] are completely abandoned, we should start to see it rebuild even more.

She said some of the bookings were made at short notice and in some cases “people have been calling every week for two years” to check on bookings they made in 2020 and couldn’t accept.

Almost as soon as the government lifted regulations that barred families with young children who couldn’t get vaccinated from traveling here, the number of people booking cars started to spike, Foster said.

During the pandemic, the company, as it regularly does, conducted fleet sales, selling some of its car inventory, but it also brought new vehicles to the island.

“We observed the whole situation and timed it accordingly. We are doing well with our fleet and have bought more cars,” she said, while acknowledging that Avis, like others, is experiencing supply chain issues.

In the past, Avis has rented cars by the day to cruise passengers who borrow vehicles to explore the island during the hours they are ashore. With the return of cruise lines on the horizon, Foster said the company will assess whether to resume the service.

At Hertz, chief executive Joshua Richards says business is “booming.”

“We are pretty much full for March and April,” he said, adding that, in addition to tourists returning in large numbers, a film crew on the island had also rented several vehicles from the company.

He said Hertz had recently purchased 30 new Kia vehicles and a few Jeeps, and would get more if they became available. “Our biggest struggle next year is that there won’t be enough cars for everyone; the whole island feels that,” he said.

While the island was closed to tourists, Hertz sold about 150 of its vehicles through its regular fleet sales, Richards said.

He added that since cruise ship passengers represent such a small segment of the company’s customers – and picking them up and dropping them off the ship takes time – the company is unlikely to focus on rentals. .

Richards described how the return of United Airlines and American Airlines to the island last month had a big and immediate impact on rental car bookings.

“The weekend United came back was the first really busy weekend we’ve had in a long time,” he said.

United arrived at Owen Roberts International Airport on Saturday, February 12, for the first time in two years. Five days later, on February 17, American Airlines resumed flights to Cayman.

“The lifting of restrictions has had a really good impact on people coming in,” Richards said.

In fact, since the regulations were changed to allow young children to travel with their parents’ vaccination status, more and more families are arriving, he said, adding: “We bought a lot of seats from car.

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