A ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances is creating hire car shortages in popular destinations as holidaymakers rush to book summer getaways following the four-month lockdown.

Bookings to Spain, France, Italy and Greece have increased by as much as 280% in the week since it was announced England’s travel and quarantine restrictions would be lifted for many destinations, according to independent rental broker Zest Car Rental.

This brings the possibility of independent travellers struggling to secure the cars they need, the firm warned.

The company has seen a 19% increase in bookings for Portugal despite it remaining on the government’s list of countries from which travellers much self-isolate for 14 days on their return and a rise in Cyprus bookings even though the country is refusing entry to anyone who has been in the UK for the previous 14 days.

Greater demand for villa and apartment holidays where social distancing may be easier than in hotels is also driving the rush to arrange holiday car rentals.

Customers are also booking cars for longer periods than usual, suggesting people are looking to have extended duration holidays after lockdown since March.

These factors combined with many hire car suppliers delaying orders to increase their fleets due to coronavirus uncertainty has the potential to create a “perfect storm’ situation of increased demand but limited supply, according to the company.

Founder and managing director Rory Sexton said: “It’s no surprise that British holidaymakers who’ve had their travel plans on hold until now are rushing to get away.

“The government has lifted restrictions allowing Brits to go abroad to many countries just in time for the traditional summer holiday period.

“Unfortunately though this rush to book could create a shortage of hire cars in the most popular pick-up locations meaning travellers may not get the size of car they need or even be able to book one at all for their holiday dates.”