YOUR letters columns (or at least those parts of them that I can read from England through the wonders of cached historic Google versions of your web pages since the Bulletin does not have its own online archive of such correspondence) have suggested that there is now a shortage of car hires on the island and that this is the major problem facing anyone wanting to rent a car on the island.

But as a member of a British family that has owned an apartment on the island for the last 23 years and actually been visiting the island regularly for just over 40 years my take on the matter is not that there is a real shortage of vehicles but rather that there is a significant downturn in the total number of visitors to the island which the car hire companies seem to think that they can simply compensate for by charging those of us still foolish enough to come to the island utterly extortionate rental rates that make it feel more like we are buying part of the vehicle rather than just hiring it for a few days. Whilst in the short term this policy may no doubt work (as it frequently takes people several years to take steps such as selling their apartments in Majorca) in the long run the likely consequence will surely be a further massive decimation of the tourist industry on the island.

It seems to me that the various Spanish entrepeneurs and/or multinational car hire chains who run the airport car rental facilities are simply not facing up to reality by accepting that as there is now permanently much less car rental business in total so they cannot all hope to have their own desks at the airport renting far less cars than they used to do with precisely the same number of staff as before at much, much higher prices. Surely the only rational economic response to the downturn in tourism on the island ought to be for several of these car rental firms to merge and to also adopt more efficient high tech means of renters supplying their driving licence and credit card details online so that each rental does not take 15 or more long and tedious minutes of a clerk sitting at a desk working out which details on a foreign driving licence, credit card and passport they need to type in to the computer.

I hope that the current situation is only temporary but if it is not I anticipate utterly disastrous consequences in terms of repeat tourism to your island, especially in terms of visits by couples or single people, as whilst a family of four may perhaps be willing to pay 300 Euros per week to visit an island they have not ever been to before in August the chances of a couple or single person making a repeat visit to the island in the low season in May or October being willing to pay these kind of car rental rates is virtually nil. Unfortunately It would seem likely that if this situation persists quite a lot more people are going to be interested in taking holidays in either the UK or the north or the middle of France where they can drive their own UK car and not be ripped off by the Spanish car rental robber barons and their blatant pricing cartel. My own calculations suggest that a car rental rate of 300 Euros per weeks for a small four door hatchback generates rental income of 15'000 Euros per years or more than the entire market price of the car. On that basis I do not see how the current high rental price racketeering by formerly cheap Spanish car rental companies.

Yours in concern.

Julian Shersby