Dear Sir,
WELL, my letter touching on rent-a-car, but mainly on the cheaper tourism Majorca receives these days, sparked off some reaction from readers, so Mr. Gren and M/s Briggs deserve an answer. Mr. Green's point that price rises have occured in Majorca is true (and the introduction of the Euro was abused by many), but general inflation knows no boundaries, as anyone who travels to cities in other countries will have found. Still available here is a three-course “home-cooked” menu of the day for between six and eight euros. Of course, there are higher prices in the tourist areas, but this is to be experienced in any tourist area in Europe that relies on a 3-4 month real season, to last them all year. Regarding his complaint about motoring costs, he should note that compared to the UK, cars are cheaper to buy here, road tax is less, as is certainly the price of petrol. My point on the cheaper end of tourism in Majorca was not specifically about rent-a-car, but mainly the trend which is spearheaded by all-inclusive tourism. Let's see where the island benefits. Holidaymakers arrive on a plane (tour operator/airline benefit), are bussed to their hotel (local bus company benefits), stay in the hotel for all food, drinks, entertainment, etcetera (hotel and tour opertor get a benefit here), bussed back to the airport, and away. Hotel and bus operators are working to a minimum benefit (negotiated by the tour opertor). It now even seems that the time the tourist goes to the beach may well be closed off financially to local operators when it becomes encompassed within the “all-inclusive”. There are plans for extending this to some bars by the beach next year. Even when leaving their hotels, “package tourists” are in the main “looking”, not “buying”; ask any shopkeeper, and of course, they are unlikely to buy food and drink when they can have all they want, prepaid, in their hotel. Many bars and restaurants are up to 50 percent down on their normal takings, and many would sell up, if there were any buyers for this slowly dying sector on the Island. Majorca cannot (and should not) be only for golf players and yacht owners (even though it has been proven they spend, on average, 10 times that of a “package tour” visitor). It should be open to a middle range of tourism that actually contributes something more to the island is what is needed to uphold and improve the economy. Unfortunately, what comes with “cheapness” is a lack of service, quality, etc., that in turn will change a location from having a balanced tourism, to mostly attracting one section that drives away the others. As far as M/s Briggs comments on rent-a-car prices are concerned, airports' “quoted” prices should not be taken as the best comparison. It's better to look at what is actually offered “on the ground” locally. For instance in Alcudia, prices for seven days (not five) in summer range from 106 Pounds and that includes delivery to and from the airport. Any local property owner who introduces business (it's even advertised by some operators in the press) can receive up to a 20 percent discount. Not that this would interest most “all-inclusive” tourists, as it's not included in their overall price, not yet that is! In the last 35 years, the Island has increased from around one million visitors to a current ten million, increasing year-on-year, and there is a movement in certain sectors to increase the capacity of the airport. So, in 20 years from now, will we have 15 or 20 million visitors per annum, and will they be, the vast majority, of the “all-inclusive” category? Everyone has their own preference, mine happens sides with quality over quantity.
Graham Phillips, Palma de Majorca

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