The regional government will not know how may hire cars there are on the islands' roads this summer, especially in Majorca, where only 70 car-hire firms and 27,750 vehicles are registered with the tourism ministry. In reality, there will be more than 65,000, say the associations Aevab and Baleval.
The deadline for official registration was 19 April - something that goes under the title of the declaration for responsibility for the commencement of touristic activity. Pilar Carbonell, the ministry's director-general, says that the aim of the register is to know exactly the number of cars and the number of firms. With this information, she adds, there can be a reliable indicator of the impact of hire cars on the overall level of traffic. But she admits that there are more cars and firms than those on the register. Any that are detected which are not on the register will be subject to penalties. "They have had sufficient time to register. More than a year to be precise."
The presidents of the two associations, Ramón Reus and Antoni Mas Ferrer, agree that it is about time that the industry was regulated. "The administrations must take measures against companies that operate in a pirate manner this summer by not being officially registered." Reus puts the total number of car-hire firms at 160 and even suggests that the level of non-registered vehicles is higher: some 50,000 without control. "We have asked Carbonell and Biel Barceló (the tourism minister) that they take appropriate measures."
Mas Ferrer says that the government doesn't at present have the necessary means to control all the cars. He insists that inspections need to be effective and to force those firms that are not registered to do so. It will be impossible to know how many cars there are this summer, "but this situation must be dealt with, as firms need to comply with the law".
He stresses that hire cars are not the only reason why roads are congested on the islands. To demonise the hire-car sector doesn't make sense, therefore, given that the two associations are calling for maximum transparency. "The aim should be to know how many cars are being marketed and for the administrations to act accordingly in the interest of maximum quality for tourists."