*Caitriona Considine of Moher Cottage. 

SOARING COSTS of car rentals has been blamed for Clare’s tourist trade falling below pre-pandemic levels.

Rapidly rising car hire costs have become a big problem in recent times for the Irish tourism industry as vehicle leasing companies sold off their fleets during the pandemic and now can’t source enough cars to meet demand.

The average price of renting a car has tripled in the last year. To rent a vehicle at Shannon Airport from Hertz car rental’s intermediate range for 10 days now costs €2,419.13. This hits Clare badly as much of the county’s tourism in recent years has come from those driving the Wild Atlantic Way, a route which in 2019 attracted 3.4 million overseas visitors.

“The car hire is a big [issue]. We’re so used to, for example, young American couples driving the Wild Atlantic Way, who would be great customers of ours, and unfortunately maybe they’re making the decision to take the detour bus from Dublin and see the Cliffs of Moher and then get back on the bus and go back to Dublin because it’s a cheaper alternative. Obviously, we want people to spend a night in Clare, we want people to spend time in Clare and see lots of the hidden gems we have, and small businesses can benefit from that” said Caitriona Considine, owner of Moher Cottage, a gift shop in Liscannor.

Martin Canavan of Moher Hill Open Farm and Leisure Centre told The Clare Echo, “International tourism is a part of our business here being close to the cliffs and [a reduction] is noticeable. I think it is [because of] the high cost of the car rentals, and the cost of the accommodation has got dearer but sure that was inevitable with the cost of everything else going up. On pre-pandemic levels, to that stage, it could be back 25%”.

He believed Clare County Council could be doing more to assist the tourism industry. “Government action is needed on a council level all along the west coast, it’s completely wrong that we’re based on a 12 month rate for valuation, us, the hotels, everything all over north and west Clare. It’s ok if you’re in Dublin and have footfall for 12 months of the year, here you only have three months”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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