Rental car companies pause bookings as demand skyrockets

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

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

"We're all struggling to supply the level of demand that's increasing as part of the recovery process," the Rental Vehicle Association's Kevin Walker said.

Unused fleets of vehicles were sold off during the height of the pandemic. Before Covid restrictions, there were around 60,000 rental cars in the country. There's now believed to be around 40,000.

"We are part of global supply chain challenges at the moment," Walker said.

"It's not about the lack of desire or commitment to market, it's really about securing the volume that's available."

It's a challenge that will grow as the peak tourist season approaches.

International visitor numbers have been steadily increasing since the borders reopened earlier this year, and are expected to reach around half of pre-Covid levels over the summer. It's feared it may also put the wider tourism sector to the test.

"The biggest challenge across the tourism industry presently is workforce," the Tourism Industry Association's Rebecca Ingram said.

"Having the right people in the right roles in the right place, and that does create some constraints."

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

"Book ahead," Ingram said. "If tourism businesses know that you're coming, then they can scale up and get ready for you."


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