Rental cars scarce

Many tourists on Grand Cayman may have to bus or walk it because rental cars are still tied up on long-term lease to residents and companies after thousands of vehicles were destroyed during Hurricane Ivan.

Ms Jenny Nikolov, Operations Co-ordinator with Budget Rent a Car of Grand Cayman, said the availability of cars on the island is very very slim.

Ms Nikolov did not have statistics as to how much of Budget’s fleet was lost through the hurricane, but, she said, the company is awaiting cars from Florida, and, because they have not arrived, Budget has had to turn away tourists who made reservations months ago.

‘It’s hurting us because any cars we have are on long-term lease to residents, the Government and businesses on island. It’s a difficult time right now because our new cars haven’t arrived yet.

‘There are lots of tourists on the island who can’t get a rental car and so they’re not having as much fun as they could be having here.’

Rental Agent with Hertz Rent a Car in Grand Cayman, Ms Arlene Forrest, said her company is also awaiting about 50 vehicles ordered from overseas.

Hertz lost almost half of its fleet in the storm and the vehicles it has available are out on long-term rental.

‘We’re hoping to receive these in January. However we’ve had a lot of calls from tourists looking for cars and we can’t give them any at the moment,’ said Ms Forrest.

But Ms Nikolov believes next month there will be a significant improvement in rental car availability.

‘I think things will get better and better from next month on because we should have received our new cars by then and residents on the island should get theirs and return their long term rentals back to us.’

Managing Director of Cico-Avis Rent a Car in Grand Cayman, Mr. Lee Foster, said 64 per cent of his company’s fleet had been lost through the hurricane.

‘We’re still down about 10 to 15 per cent on our pre-Ivan fleet size,’ he said.

About 45 per cent of its fleet is on lease to essential services companies, but this number is dwindling as more and more people get their insurance sorted out and purchase new vehicles.

However, Mr. Foster said Cico Avis will purposely run 20 per cent less than what they normally run during winter to accommodate for lack of hotel rooms.

There is a demand for the cars they have, as available rooms at the Westin Casuarina Resort and the Marriott Courtyard Resort, where Cico Avis has outlets, are running at about 80 per cent to 90 per cent occupancy.

However, Mr. Foster said the forecast does not look as good for January and it is too early to tell how car rentals will sell for February.

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