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TRAVEL NEWS

Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

If you're coming to Spain this Easter and want to rent a car, there's a high chance you won't be able to. Here's why.

Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain
Renting a car in Spain at short notice is getting harder and more expensive. Photo: JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this Easter or even this summer, unless they book well in advance. 

Over the past two years, since the start of Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

Which places in Spain are experiencing shortages?

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.  

While the National Business Federation of Vehicle Rental With and Without Driver (FENEVAL), which operates across Spain has revealed that they currently have 600,000 cars, which is 27 percent less than in 2019, when they had 820,000 vehicles.

READ ALSO – How to cut travel costs by carpooling in Spain: Eight trustworthy options

Why is there a shortage?

There are several factors that have led to this shortage, which primarily have to do with the pandemic.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.  They also say that they cannot replace these vehicles because they do not have the dealers to do so.

One of the biggest issues is that also due to the drop in demand during the pandemic, the world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, which are an integral part of automobile production. Each car requires an average of 200 to 400 microchips.

“They are manufacturing very few cars due to the lack of microchips”, explained the president of the Business Association of Rental Vehicles in Andalusia (AESVA), Ana María García.  

The car rental sector also complains that car rental companies are not priority customers for manufacturers. “They are selling them to other sectors or to individuals,” explained García.  

President of Feneval, Juan Luis Barahona also echoed this sentiment, saying “we are having problems getting manufacturers to provide us with new cars”.  

What can I do?

If you know that you’re coming to Spain and will need a rental car, the best option is to book your car as soon as you book your flights.

Make sure that you don’t leave it until you arrive, otherwise, you’ll find that you could be left without any private transportation and will be forced to rely on public transport instead – not ideal if you’ve planned a Spanish road trip or you’ve planned on visiting some of the Canary and Balearic Islands where public transport isn’t very reliable. 

In the Canary Islands, Aecav expects this problem to worsen during the summer and recommends “booking well in advance”.

Rise in prices

Due to the lack of availability and increase in demand, car rental prices have soared. As reported by LaSexta TV channel, renting a car from Palma de Mallorca airport in July 2021 cost €880 when booking one month in advance, but now even if you look three months in advance, the cost has gone up to €970.

The rise in prices affects the cheapest models, which together with the rise in fuel prices will make self-drive and road trip vacations a lot more difficult for many tourists to Spain this year.

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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Britons, Americans and other non-EU/Schengen travellers who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid-19 will not be able to visit Spain for tourism for at least another month, Spanish authorities have confirmed.

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel (including tourism) from most third countries for another month, until June 15th 2022.

That means that non-EU/Schengen adults who reside outside of the EU and who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness in the past six months cannot go on holiday to Spain during the next month. 

Therefore, Spain continues to not accept negative Covid-19 tests from British, American, Canadian, Indian or other third-country nationals who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered. 

There had been hopes that the shorter two-week extension to the ban on non-essential travel issued on April 30th, as well as talk of the “orderly and progressive reopening” of the country’s borders, would mean that unvaccinated third country nationals would be allowed into Spain in May.

But in the end, Saturday May 14th’s state bulletin confirmed that Spain will keep the same measures in place for another 31 days, stating that they “will eventually be modified to respond to a change of circumstances or to new recommendations in the context of the European Union”.

Spain’s ban on unvaccinated non-EU travellers is arguably the last major Covid-19 restriction in place in the country, and other EU countries such as Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic and Ireland are allowing unvaccinated tourists in.

This latest announcement by the Spanish government marks the umpteenth extension to non-essential travel from outside of the EU/Schengen area over the past two years of the pandemic, the previous one was due to expire on May 15th. 

But perhaps this extension is the most surprising, as the Spanish health ministry has modified its rulebook to treat Covid-19 like the flu and the country wants to recover the tourism numbers it had pre-pandemic.

The ban affects unvaccinated British tourists in particular, as the UK is still the biggest tourism market for Spain, but Britons’ non-EU status means they have to follow the same Covid-19 travel rules as other third-country nationals.

Vaccinated or recovered third-country travellers

Those who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 more than two weeks prior to travel to Spain will need to show a valid vaccination certificate with an EMA or WHO approved vaccine.

If their initial vaccination treatment was completed more than 9 months ago (270 days), they’ll need to show they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot. 

As for non-EU/Schengen travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, they will need to show a recovery certificate to prove this

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”, as well as being issued by the relevant authorities.

Exceptions

In early February, Spanish authorities also decided to start allowing unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen teenagers aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain for tourism if they provided a negative PCR.

Spain continues to have a small list of low-risk third countries whose travellers visiting Spain for non-essential reasons can enter without having to present proof of Covid-19 testing, recovery or vaccination. 

This is updated weekly and can be checked here by clicking on the PDF under “risk and high risk countries/areas”. 

READ ALSO: Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I’m not vaccinated?

If you’re not vaccinated or recovered, the exceptions for travel to Spain from third countries that fall under the non-essential travel restrictions are:

  • You are a resident in the EU or Schengen country.
  • You have a visa for a long duration stay in an EU or Schengen country.
  • You work in transport, such as airline staff or are in a maritime profession.
  • You work in diplomatic, consular, international organisations, military or civil protection or are a member of a humanitarian organisation.
  • You have a student visa for a country in the EU or Schengen zone.
  • You are a highly qualified worker or athlete whose work cannot be postponed or carried out remotely.
  • You are travelling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
  • You are allowed entry due to force majeure or on humanitarian grounds.
  • And as mentioned earlier in the article, if you have a vaccination certificate that Spain’s Ministry of Health recognises, as well as for any accompanying minors (unless they’re under 12 years of age).

READ ALSO: When do I need to fill out Spain’s Covid health control form for travel?

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