Thursday, April 25, 2024

TOURISM MATTERS: Getting the hired car facts straight


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When I read an article captioned “Slow Crop Over For Car Rental Businesses”, in one section of the media, I was quite surprised, as the provisional arrival figures and various comments made by politicians, event organisers and policymakers indicated that attendance was good.  

If the headline had contained the word “some” or “a couple”, perhaps it would be far more credible.

Just days before, the same news source published an article entitled “Lashley Over The Moon At Crop Over Success”, in which the minister was quoted as saying it was virtually impossible to find hired cars over that period.

I fully understand that our journalists cannot be experts and knowledgeable about every subject they write on, but surely if you do not know, it is your responsibility to check prior to going to press, in absolute fairness to all involved.

To obtain some balance, I contacted one of our largest car rental companies with a fleet of well over 100 vehicles and they explained that around 85 per cent of their vehicles had been rented during the Crop Over period. Adding that when factoring in that some of the vehicles were under repair, this resulted in a virtual 100 per cent utilisation.

There are already so many myths and misconceptions in tourism that it does no one any good to expand these in an already contentious industry, through poor and ill researched reporting.

Even after 50 years in the sector, involved in various component parts, including as a travel agent, tour director, tour operator and hotelier, I would be a fool labouring under the illusion that I knew everything. Surely, it is no different in the media?

If, in fact, the one named company and the other operator “headquartered at Derricks, St, James” were correct and there was no business out there during Crop Over this year, you have to ask why some companies would do so well and other appears to fail dismally?

When I saw the cost of “paying the average $176.25 a day for a hired car”, maybe that is where the challenge is. That’s a little less than I paid for an entire week hire for a compact car collected at Louisville Airport in Kentucky last year, which included all the fees and taxes with a major brand rental company.

With a glut of funds in the banks and financial institutions, I would have thought that the car suppliers and these lending entities could partner to offer more affordable hire purchase and leasing options for our car rental sector to help bring down what are hugely globally uncompetitive rates when compared to where many of our visitors emanate from.

There also seems an enormous amount of room for our car rental providers to work better together to ensure we maximise foreign exchange earning potential.



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