Not just one, but around fifty. | Marcelo Sastre

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A rare sight indeed. A tourist. Not just one, but around fifty. Unseen for two years, on Wednesday these were national tourists, Imserso holidaymakers. After what has been, even by the chaotic standards of Imserso organisation, an exceptionally long delay to the start of this low-season’s programme, Spanish senior citizens were finally on Mallorcan earth. And in a Magalluf all-inclusive no less, for which exemptions apply in terms of the tourism of excesses decree. Spanish pensioners don’t do excess.

This arrival will allow the tourist stats to be bumped up. A big bet of the Balearic government is national tourism, whose spending has recently increased. All power, therefore, to tourism of quality (aka spending power). But with Imserso?

No sooner in Mallorca than there was a reminder why hotels have such an issue with Imserso. What they make from it barely covers costs. So it has been for years and so it will continue for more years, unless the programme is rethought. A principal advantage is that at least labour costs are just about covered, meaning there is hotel employment, albeit with the ERTE system still in force until at least the end of this month, there is further disincentive.

Imserso is, in principle, a good scheme. The practice, however, is often less so. Each year there seems to be a legal issue of one sort or another. Hotels need a better deal, while it might be nice were bars to ever gain some benefit as well.