The period for the first phase of submission of applications to participate in the 2018-2019 IMSERSO Tourism Programme was reopened a few weeks ago. According to Imserso, it will remain open until June 14.
Once the first phase ends, there will then be a second phase from June 15 to February 26 of next year. Currently, and after two years of the contract and an extension of further 12 months to Mundosenior for trips on the peninsula and inland tourism, and to Mundiplan for trips to the Canary and Balearic Islands, the government has decided to get rid of the second year of extension and reopened the call for tenders.
Several problems arose during the previous tender that subsequently forced IMSERSO to award a one-year extension to the successful tenderers. Carmen Balfagón, the director general of IMSERSO, announced last February that new conditions would be applied for the next tender to avoid the same problems occurring in the future.
More criticism from the opposition.
The Spanish hotel business association, Cehat, had asked to invite tenders for next year. Some of the criticisms from the sector referred to the fact that although the system has a social character, the allocation of places does not take precedence over the income criteria, and that some people can go on repeat trips during the year while other pensioners remain outside the system and this creates inequality in the current structure.
There is no fixed date at the present time for the next changes but are being debated in the parliament since late last year through the Mixed Commission (Congress-Senate) for Relations with the Court of Auditors, led by the request of the PSOE and Ciudadanos, who unanimously approved a resolution so that elderly people with few resources can also benefit from the social programme.
Carmen Balfagón intends to end the “discrimination” suffered by pensioners on the smaller islands in the Canaries and the Balearics, who until now had to pay out of their own pockets (for example, a flight ticket from Ibiza to Majorca) and later claim for it from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport so they could then travel to other destinations within the IMSERSO holiday programme.
Numbers and the current programme.
At present, Spain has three million pensioners, and the current plan developed by the Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (IMSERSO in Spanish) has approximately 1,200,000 places, with more than 300 hotels from all over Spain taking part.
Destinations are offered every year on the coast (Andalusia, Murcia, Valencia and Catalonia), inland (cultural routes, nature tourism, and the regional capitals of Ceuta and Melilla) and the Canary and Balearic Islands.
The IMSERSO Holiday Programme offers stays from October to June at a reduced rate in tourist areas along the coast, the Canary and Balearic Islands and cultural tours.
The current campaign saw an increase in the number of places offered in Ibiza compared to the previous year, which jumped from 18,800 to 32,000. This, according to Carmen Balfagón is because it’s “one of the preferred destinations” for Spanish pensioners, and for the moment they only pay €185 for an 8-day stay with transport included in the price.