The number of hotels involved in Imserso is climbing but is not up to what it once was. | D.E.


It is being estimated that the Balearics will receive more than 250,000 tourists under the Imserso programme for the first time. This scheme of holidays for Spanish senior citizens is scheduled to run between October and May. There are two schemes that operate, one that has state grants, and the other which is a private initiative.

Imserso holidays go on sale between 15 and 20 September across Spain. Mundiplan, operated by Iberia and others, plans on bringing 170,000 tourists to the islands. Mundosenior Plus (Viajes Barceló and Halcón Viajes - Globalia) will be bringing 80,000. There will be significantly more visitors than last year, when legal rows meant that the programme didn't get under way until January.

There will be 54 hotels participating in the scheme, 40 of them in Majorca. The resort areas will be Playa de Palma, Palmanova-Magalluf, Santa Ponsa, Puerto Alcudia and Playa de Muro. Presidents of hotelier associations note that this type of tourism has a positive effect on employment and limits the impact of seasonality.

Prices for these holidays range from 141 and 314 euros and depend on factors such as when the holiday is, the type of accommodation and duration. The Mundosenior plan offers a wider range of hotels as it involves direct negotiation with hotels and is not subject to the state subsidy.

The Majorca Hoteliers Federation's president, Inma Benito, says that it is very positive that the two programmes will be operating for eight months and she looks forward to there not being a repeat of the "errors" that dogged last year's scheme and produced the legal rows. These had gone to the national court for contractual arbitration and led to the government - in the form of the national health and social services ministry - having to accept a cancellation of the Mundiplan award. (There had been a challenge by Mundosenior.) Eventually, there was a form of compromise, but there was still some chaos surrounding the holidays to the Balearics given to Mundiplan.

While it is said that Imserso helps to boost resorts, there has been a question mark as to whether businesses other than hotels see any real benefit. As to the scale of the programme in Majorca, the hoteliers in both Playa de Palma and Palmanova-Magalluf recognise that it is improving once more but is still some way short of the days when up to thirty hotels in both resort areas were participating.