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Domestic tourists warned to book rental cars early due to pandemic-induced fleet shortage

Most car rentals companies sold off their fleets dramatically at the height of the pandemic when travel bans were in place causing a 65% drop in available rental cars. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Most car rentals companies sold off their fleets dramatically at the height of the pandemic when travel bans were in place causing a 65% drop in available rental cars. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Published Dec 6, 2021

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Cape Town - As the hospitality industry looks to domestic tourists to salvage the summer season following crippling cancellations by foreign tourists because of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, people wanting to rent cars during their holidays have been warned to book early or be disappointed.

An industry expert has said that most car rentals companies sold off their fleets dramatically at the height of the pandemic when international and local travel bans were in place causing a 65% drop in available rental cars.

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Co-founder of Cape Town-based travel aggregator Drive South Africa, Andre Van Kets, said: “The drop in fleet is what has helped the car rental companies survive, along with some shutting branches and reducing staff and operating hours.

“The supply and demand have been roughly equal throughout 2021 while travel has slowly clawed back. But in peak holiday season demand far exceeds supply. So travellers who book too late may be disappointed. There aren’t enough cars. Many travellers will not get the rental car that they’d hoped for.”

Meanwhile, this morning Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis launched the City’s domestic tourism campaign aimed at encouraging visitors from around the country to Cape Town this summer.

Ahead of the launch, the City said: “In view of recent events resulting in the ban on international travel, Cape Town and partners are launching the domestic tourism campaign aimed at South Africans looking for great deals over the summer holidays.”

Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront general manager Clinton Thom said: "The domestic market has been amazing in their support of us over the last year and a bit and we are exceptionally grateful for the support.

“We have learned to adapt in order to accommodate our loyal local leisure travellers, as well as those looking for unique food and beverage experiences."

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