The tourism ministry has announced that it is going to be launching an inspection campaign to control illegal rental cars operating on the region this summer; pirate companies caught will face stiff sanctions.
According to the Association of Rental Vehicles (Aevab) an estimated 50,000 hire cars will be operating illegally on the roads of Majorca this season with thousands more in Minorca and Ibiza.
There is apparently a rising number of rental companies which do not register with the ministry. Therefore, it is impossible to put an exact figure on the number of rental cars being hired out, Ramon Reus, the president of the association said.
Reus has been battling the large pirate hire car firms for years: not only because they operate illegally, but also because of how they scam their clients by adding on hidden costs.
Reus had been hoping that tougher regulations on the hire-car sector would have been included in the new tourism law, but he was let down at the last minute despite talks with the previous tourism minister. This has led to the local small to medium sized businesses being squeezed out of the market.
Reus said that, according to figures provided by the Balearic Ports Authority, there could be as many as 90,000 hire cars in Majorca this summer. Most of them will have been registered with small town halls on the mainland for rates far inferior to what the companies would have paid in road duties in the Balearics. Local authorities on the islands are therefore being sold short.
The director general for tourism, Antoni Sanso, has said that from the beginning of May a wave of inspections is going to be carried out to locate the illegal operators. Fines will be handed out to those caught flouting the law. These companies will also be made to register with the ministry and declare the exact number of hire cars they have on the island.
Sanso said that fines could reach as much as 40,000 euros if a company is found neither to have registered with the local authorities nor declared the size of its fleet. At best, pirate operators will get away with a 4,000 euro fine.
A similar campaign was carried out in September last year and 15 pirate operators were detected and fined an average of 10,000 euros each.
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