South America Grows Share of U.S. Rental Market

The number of international visitors renting cars when they arrive in the U.S. continues to increase, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Office's “2014 Sector Profile: Rental Car.”

In 2014, 12,150,000 overseas visitors rented cars when traveling in the U.S. This is up from 7,962,000 visitors who rented cars in 2010, according to the report.

"If you look at it over the longer term, you will see the rental car industry has done quite well in terms of increased share and increased numbers of overseas travelers who rent cars," said Ron Erdmann, deputy director of research for the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Travel & Tourism Office. 

Of those who rented cars in 2014, 41.7% were from Europe, 25.3% were from South America, 21% traveled from Asia and 4.7% came from the Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) region. But overall from 2010 to 2014, Europe has lost share to regions with growth markets.

"When you look at who is renting cars, it's changing," said Erdmann. "Europe is down as a share and only up slightly in volume when comparing 2010 to 2014, and the growth in share and volume is South America and Oceania." 

At a country level, the report shows similar data. "Japan's use of rental car is down when compared to 2010.  Whereas, Brazil, China and Colombia all set records and have posted the fastest growth among the countries shown,” said Erdmann.

When renting a car on their trips in 2014, overseas travelers are shopping, sightseeing, going to amusement parks, experiencing fine dining and visiting national parks and monuments, according to the report.

In 2014, Florida is the top car rental state in the U.S. for international visitors, followed by California, New York, Nevada, Hawaii and Arizona. When it comes to cities, Orlando is the biggest car rental city, followed by Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

When looking at the main purpose of the trip, business travel was down from 2009, while leisure travel increased. In 2009, business and convention travel garnered a 24% share, while leisure (includes family and friend visits) travel had a 74% share. In 2014, leisure travel increased to 80%, while business/convention travel dipped to 16%.

For more information and to see the full report, visit

Courtesy of National Travel and Tourism Office.
Courtesy of National Travel and Tourism Office.

Courtesy of National Travel and Tourism Office.
Courtesy of National Travel and Tourism Office.

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