An earlier start to the Imserso programme had been hoped for. | Pere Bota

The Imserso programme of holidays for Spanish senior citizens is likely to be delayed to the first quarter of 2022. The target month for it to start has been September. However, there are reasons why it will not. The national ministry of health has been reluctant to give the programme its blessing and the ministry of social affairs has not yet decided on the contract process. The specifications for contracts still need drafting.

An added complication is that there are five groups in the bidding. To the Mundiplan consortium of Iberia and others and the Mundosenior joint venture between Barceló and Globalia have been added Iberostar via its W2M division, the Logitravel online travel agency and the Nautalia tour operator.

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There was an extension to the end of June for the 2020-2021 programme, but this has proved to be irrelevant; there was and is no programme.

The ministry of social affairs is ultimately the one that sorts out the contracts, but the tourism ministry is also involved. The two ministries and the director-general of Imserso (the Institute for Senior Citizens and Social Services), Luis Barriga, are currently looking at how to proceed.

The health ministry is setting out the health measures that will be needed, while the Cehat national confederation of hoteliers continues to demand that the government increases what hotels receive per tourist per night from 22 to 25 euros.