Tasmania's rental car shortage has been labeled a "frustration" and "disappointing" by stakeholders within the industry, as the sector struggles to meet demand.
Many anecdotes are being shared across the state regarding a shortage of rental cars for tourists looking to come holiday in Tasmania during the upcoming Easter break, while the cars that are left on the market have sky-rocketed in cost.
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Those anecdotes are familiar to Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin who said the issue had been an ongoing problem since the beginning of COVID-19.
"The reality is the market is recovering really strongly around demand, so we're certainly hearing anecdotes like that," he said.
"We basically just have a complete shortage of cars in the market, we've had it basically since borders reopened.
"The reality is the cars don't exist. It's frustrating, but we are trying to encourage people to use other ways to see the state."
It's a bit disappointing, my return flights cost less than one day of car rental if you can be believe thatJatin Anand
Traveller Jatin Anand shared his experience of the Tasmanian rental car market as he looked to book a car for his week-long trip in the coming weeks.
Mr Anand said he found the lack of cars surprising and tempted him to cancel his trip and move to a different location.
"Terrible I would say. I've been to Tasmania before and never had a problem, prices are quite cheap, but this time - if I knew the car rental would be so expensive I would have reconsidered," he said.
"It's a bit disappointing, my return flights cost less than one day of car rental if you can be believe that.
"I did consider, but I really wanted to get out so I just bit the bullet and spent the money."
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Mr Anand said the price of the rental car had meant he considered other options including the Spirit of Tasmania.
"I couldn't find enough dates for [the Spirit of Tasmania], extremely good deal ... but extremely limited dates," he said
"For people like me a car is essential unless you just want to stay in the CBD and just walk around ... if you want to get out and you want to see places you do need a car."
I came back this year [to Apex Rentals] and I have never seen anything like it in my life.Nikki Smith
Nikki Smith from Apex Rentals in Launceston said she had never seen such a situation in her time in the industry.
"It's crazy because usually this at this time of year we aren't so busy, but this year we are and the amount of people we've had to turn away has been crazy," she said.
"I came back this year [to Apex Rentals] and I have never seen anything like it in my life.
"Normally people could walk up and rent a car that's how much extra fleet we have ... because Apex is quite cheap people have started coming to us because of how expensive the other companies can be."
Ms Smith said she was at a loss to explain why there had been an influx of tourists coming at the start of Tasmania's traditionally slow tourism period .
"It's just hard to explain because I, myself have no idea why so many people are coming to Tasmania ... a few of our customers are sale representatives ... some people have had to move their holidays from last year to this year now the borders are open," she said.
"We are part of the mainland I think that's why people a lot of people are coming down, they can't travel out of Australia so they're coming to Tasmania."
Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said the government would closely follow the sector with locals expecting an influx of visitors in light of recent travel announcements.
"The government acknowledges the recent announcement of discounted flights may translate to an increase in demand and will closely monitor the supply of hire and drive vehicles and the market's ability to meet increasing demand to ensure consumers can access a hire vehicle at a reasonable prices," he said.
"The Tasmanian government is committed to maintaining a viable hire and drive industry to support tourism and the growth of the Tasmanian economy.
"We have been working hard to provide all available assistance with rental car shortages in Tasmania, and it's been great working with the sector."
In recent times, the state government has supported the launch of peer-to-peer car rental platforms in Tasmania and offered financial help to the sector.
It's a really great opportunity for some of those operatorsLuke Martin
Ms Smith said that she suspects the shortage will begin to ease later in the year when companies like Apex Rentals receive its next fleet of cars.
"I don't think it will stick around to the end of the year," she said.
Mr Martin suggested the car rental situation may require some left-field thinking from travellers, but said it did present an opportunity for travel operators.
"Some of these businesses like mini tour buses or private drivers, and the reality is the cost of hiring one of them to drive out for the day is probably highly cost competitive to them as opposed to hiring a vehicle especially in the current market," he said.
"It's a really great opportunity for some of those operators."
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