Car hire companies charging rip off prices risk damaging Ireland’s tourism sector and going bust in the long-term, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has warned.
Prices have soared in numerous sectors across the economy but the increases in car hire have been astronomic; one tourist planning to visit Ireland was told it would be €51,350 to rent a car for nine days. By contrast, nine helicopter rides can be booked for around half that price.
Even hoteliers - who have put their own prices up significantly - have said tourists have cancelled bookings this summer because they cannot afford to rent a car.
The Government has previously expressed concerns that the cost of visiting Ireland will deter tourists from coming back again and Minister Donohoe said the sector should not bother asking for a bailout if it gets into trouble:
“The people who will pay the price for overcharging and charging prices that are far too high will be those businesses themselves as consumers vote with their own feet with the goods and services they buy,” Minister Donohoe predicted.
“And my message to those businesses that are involved in those kind of practices is, ‘Don’t come to the Government in a few months' time looking for help when your own pricing decisions have undermined the competitiveness of your business and undermined the competitiveness of our country.’”
However, the minister rejected the idea that he should intervene directly in the car hire market:
“I can’t control the prices that private businesses charge for goods and services they make available,” he said.
“And there’s no point indicating that a Government can control those prices because we can’t.”
Main image: Paschal Donohue. Picture by: RollingNews.ie