By Humphrey Carter PALMA

BRITISH holiday makers have been warned that they could not only face a shortage of vehicles to rent in popular destinations this summer, they could also find that car hire rates have risen by as much as 250 percent during the peak of the season.

Bulletin readers will be well aware of the disgust of scores of visitors who have written to the newspaper over the past six months complaining about the extortionate increase in car rental rates but it appears that this summer, the situation could be even worse.

According to sources in the UK, there is already a problem with car hire in Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and the Canaries but the travel industry is also receiving complaints from British holiday makers in Greece, France and Portugal as well.

The main problem is that, because of the recession, car rental companies are not being given the finance to renew or expand their fleets which were down sized last year because of the global economic crisis and the down turn in tourism.

However, this year, Britons, for example, are travelling again and many car rental companies are unable to meet demand and, as a result, rental prices have risen significantly in most of Europe's most popular summer holiday hot spots.

The Bulletin even received letters from some regular visitors who complained that they would not be returning to Majorca because of the high price of renting a vehicle.

The local authorities have been alerted to the problem but, as yet, nothing official has been either said nor done to try and resolve what could be a damaging issue considering that the holiday market is still extremely price sensitive and more and more holiday makers are sourcing information about resort facilities, such as car hire prices, before they book. Car rental experts in the UK are advising British tourists to try and book well in advance to avoid any further peak season hikes in the cost of renting a car.

Holiday makers leaving renting a vehicle until they reach their destination could be either left without a car or out of pocket.