Imserso holidaymakers in Ibiza. | Daniel Espinosa

Over this current low season, only twenty hotels in the Balearics are participating in the Imserso programme of subsidised holidays for Spain's senior citizens. This is exactly half the number that were involved in 2019-2020. And the reason is what hotels get paid under the scheme - 23.50 euros per tourist per night, full board.

Hoteliers, and not just in the Balearics, have been complaining for years that they don't receive enough. This year, hotels have pulled out because of their increased costs, which would have made Imserso even less profitable than previously. It is said that the hotels which are open for Imserso will be operating at a loss. In Mallorca, there are just the ten, five of them in Arenal, and this number looks likely to decrease further for the 2023-2024 season. The Spanish government hasn't increased the funding for Imserso holidays in its 2023 budget, meaning that there won't be any increase to what hotels are paid.

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The executive vice-president of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, María José Aguiló, says that the participation of Balearic hotel companies will inevitably be reduced due to the growing gap between prices and costs. She adds: "The conditions of these holidays have barely evolved since the programme was first introduced. A reformulation of prices and concept is needed to make them viable and attractive."

The Balearic tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, met the secretary of state for social rights* last week to call for a "higher quality Imserso offer" and for improved terms for hotels in the Balearics, which are being penalised for the fact that they pay higher salaries than in any other Spanish region. This "obvious disadvantage" is now reflected in a lack of interest for a programme that costs hotels more than they receive.

* Imserso holidays are the responsibility of Spain's ministry of social rights and not the tourism ministry.