By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE recent reports of a significant improvement in the sale of holidays to the Balearics this summer and forecast that one million more holiday makers will be coming to the region this year, has boosted the spirits of the vehicle rental sector which, like the tourist industry as a whole, has suffered a very lean few couple of years.

The President of Aevab, the Association of Vehicle Rental and Chauffeur Companies, Ramon Reus, said yesterday that this year is going to be a “good year for the industry” now that the tourist industry appears to have turned the corner and is going to recover.

Reus explained after meetings with the hoteliers and the tour operators, during which he was informed of the rise in demand for Balearic holiday sales, his members are confident that they too witness an increase in business.

However, he stressed the need to be cautious. “All the current expectations and market forecast may be encouraging but we have to wait for the market recovery to actually happen before we can start celebrating,” he said.

Reus revealed that last year was not as bad as initially expected, he said the results for most of the car rental companies was “acceptable” considering the economic environment. “Considering the dire economic situation of the past two years, 2010 was a good year,” he added.
That said, the car rental fleet last year was 40.000 vehicles strong, some 20'000 less than in between 2006 and 2008 and the reduction in the number of vehicles for rent led to hugely unpopular increase in vehicle rental rates. Reus explained that, apart from a reduction in demand, many rental companies were forced to reduce the size of their fleets because the banks would not make any credit available for them to purchase new vehicles. But, he is confident the situation will improve this year.