Hire cars and residents' cars, they all add to congestion.

16-08-2016M. Joy

The hire-car sector in the Balearics is expected to turn over 250 million euros during the main summer months, but this figure is a sixth less than had originally been forecast. In June and July, there was fall of 15%.

These are the figures from the Balearic association of vehicle-hire companies, which doesn't represent all hire-car activity on the islands. Most notably, there are what its president Ramon Reus describes as the "so-called exporters", firms which publicise car rental on the internet for as little as three euros a day. This sort of price, says Reus, is just the bait. The final price is between 40 and 50 euros, while customers can lose 300 euros "for nothing" and have to place deposits of up to 1,500 euros.

These firms, adds Reus, are making things impossible for the majority in the sector which has signed up to the code of good practice set out by the Balearic government's consumer affairs department. As coincidence would have it, he notes ironically, these other firms have not signed up.

A further factor in a fall in turnover, he believes, is that fewer cars are being hired because of this summer's recovery of competitor tourism destinations. He also draws attention to last year's anti-tourism protests, one aspect of which was the placing of stickers on hire cars. They had messages such as "tourists go home".

Reus criticises the fact that there are too many cars on Majorca's roads. In the summer the total number of hire cars can be as many as 90,000, but traffic congestion is far from being just the result of tourism. At half seven in the morning it can be impossible to get into Palma because of all the people driving to work and parents making the school run.

The traffic congestion, he suggests, is affecting the island's image. "Tourists used to think that the quality of life in the Balearics was enormous and that it would take just seven minutes to drive from Palma to Arenal." As a solution, he would like to see greater emphasis being placed on the island's rail network rather than on bus services.

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