Imserso will open its offer to stay more connected to culture and nature

Two adults enjoying the sun on the beach. / CR

The agency is offering 816,000 trips for the new season, a program that tries to encourage active aging

Antonio Paniagua

Imserso plans to introduce some changes to its senior travel program, an initiative that tries to encourage active aging. In light of users’ requests and recommendations, the agency intends to design trips that provide more autonomy to the customer, so that he can use his personal car to make certain trips. The general director of the organization, Luis Alberto Barriga, is aware that it is not because he is retired that the users of the program are unemployed. Therefore, Imserso is committed to offering shorter trips in the future, less than 15 days, which allow the elderly to take care of other responsibilities, such as looking after their grandchildren.

In view of the experience, Imserso will try to ensure that users enjoy greater independence so that they can use their private car to have greater freedom of movement without affecting the fact that they can to take advantage of the activities and accommodation that the administration program.

Gone are the days when Imserso travel beneficiaries made their own beds because they had never stayed in a hotel. More than thirty years after the launch of the program aimed at sustaining employment in a sector with a high seasonal component, the users of the initiative are frequent travelers, with concerns different from those of those pioneers. Now a 70-year-old retiree, he is as adventurous, in top shape and curious as a younger person. Therefore, the demand for leisure exceeds the supply of sun and beach. “Interior, cultural and natural tourism are increasingly sought after by retirees,” says Luis Alberto Barriga, who claims that these tastes will be taken into account in the coming years.

The agency renewed its bid after problems related to the pandemic forced the program to be suspended in the 2020-21 season and half-run in the next one. In this invitation, he has developed an offer consisting of 816,029 tourist packages, which are divided into stays on the coast of the peninsula, the islands or in the interior of Spain, where cultural and nature-related activities are carried out.

Depending on the dates, the method and the type of accommodation, prices vary between 405 euros, which is the cost of a ten-day stay in the Canary Islands, and 116 for four days in the capital of the province.

Cards

Currently, Imserso has started sending 2.6 million letters to pensioners who have registered to participate in the social tourism program. “We hope to get back to normal. Only in the previous campaign 2021-22, which was stopped in the months of September, October, November and December, 500,000 tourist packages were reached, so in this new invitation we can cover perfectly 90% or more of the squares,” says Barriga. As of September 20, users can now enter into contracts that are almost fully subscribed in just four days.

The package tour prices do not reflect the rampant inflation Spain is suffering from, among other things, because the auction was held in December. Facing criticism from hoteliers, Imserso’s director recalled that the government “does not set the prices charged by the different parts of the value chain, including hotels, because that would be illegal.” “Those who rent the hotels are the recipient companies, which negotiate with the hotel establishments and agencies. If we had raised the price for pensioners, it would not have affected the tourism sector; It would simply mean a saving in terms of the state contribution,” stresses Barriga.

It is not in the goals to extend the social tourism program to younger ages so that only people over 55 remain beneficiaries. Nor does Imserso intend to set different prices based on users’ incomes, as businessmen in the industry claim. “It is a right of all citizens that is exercised regardless of income level, as is the case with health care. Amancio Ortega has the same right to go to the emergency room and consult the public system as any other citizen, regardless of those who charge,” Barriga adds.

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