Rental car woes lead Ontario couple to shorten summer trip to N.L.

·3 min read
Breanne Firth and her husband were hoping to spend a week exploring Newfoundland. But the couple wasn't able to find a rental car and now will only be spending two nights of their trip in the province.  (Submitted by Breanne Firth  - image credit)
Breanne Firth and her husband were hoping to spend a week exploring Newfoundland. But the couple wasn't able to find a rental car and now will only be spending two nights of their trip in the province. (Submitted by Breanne Firth - image credit)

After two years of staying close to home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Breanne Firth says she and her husband were looking forward to travelling from their home in Barrie, Ont. to Fogo Island and spending time in Newfoundland this summer.

"He loves the rejuvenation of the island, the way they're working hard to try to make sure that the community there stays relevant and sustainable for future generations," Firth said.

"So we decided to look at going to Fogo again and wanted to try to explore a little bit more."

Firth said she booked flights to St. John's for their week-long trip and started looking for a rental car. She said she found nothing online, so she started calling rental companies in St. John's.

Firth couldn't find a vehicle at any company in St. John's, so she called rental companies in Gander. She said there were no vehicles available there either, even more expensive luxury vehicles.

The couple quickly cancelled their flights and re-arranged the entire trip.

Instead of a week exploring Newfoundland, the couple now plans to spend a few days in Halifax, fly to Gander and take a shuttle to Fogo Island for two nights, then shuttle back to Gander and fly to Montreal to end the trip.

Submitted by Breanne Firth
Submitted by Breanne Firth

"We're a little bit frustrated. We didn't get to do the trip that we were kind of hoping for this time around," Firth said.

"It's not going to stop us from coming back another time. Unfortunately, I think though, for some it might, and that's too bad."

Firth said she's seen some beautiful tourism ads inviting people to discover the island, but that for many, it's not possible unless they drive long hours from their home province.

According to Craig Hirota, vice-president of government relations and member services for the Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators, car rental companies are trying to secure more vehicles, but it could still be tough to rent a car for the next couple of years.

Tourism Minister Steve Crocker said in February that visitors to Newfoundland and Labrador should book rental cars well in advance, to help rental car agencies forecast demand.

Politicians square off on travel issues

Travel difficulties and the high price of gas has dominated discussion in the House of Assembly over the past week, with events for the province's Come Home Year just around the corner.

On Thursday, Bonavista MHA Craig Pardy raised concern that people might just be staying home instead of travelling. He said a camper told him a return trip from St. John's to Terra Nova National Park would cost $300 just in gas.

"He and a lot more, it seems, have decided to stay home," Pardy said. "Will Come Home Year mean stay home year?"

Andrew Parsons, minister of industry, energy and technology, said while everyone is feeling concerns about gas prices, bookings are up. He said Marine Atlantic has surpassed the number of bookings in 2019.

"That bodes well for this province, all these people coming in, in their vehicles," Parsons said.

"I can also say that the numbers at Burgeo Sandbanks Provincial Park have also surpassed the numbers from last summer."

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