The announcement by the Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, that the prices of the travel program for the elderly, the well-known Imserso, will be maintained, will have a “devastating effect that condemns the sector to ruin.” This is the complaint made by the Valencian hotel management (Hosbec) and even the Government of Ximo Puig, who sees the program at risk.
The hotels on the Costa Blanca, especially in Benidorm, which offers 18% of the total places in the program, have been demanding that the specifications of the next tender include an update of the prices, at least to adapt them to the increase in costs. labor, energy and inflation, something that the Ministry has not addressed. Belarra’s intention is not to raise “a penny” the cost of travel to the elderly, but the sector raises its voice because, it says, this decision makes the program unfeasible.
Maintaining the prices means, according to the employer’s data, that they will continue to receive 22 euros net per day and person, which will cover accommodation in four-star hotels, on a full board basis, “with wine and water included”, and access to all hotel services.
“We hope that the minister can give us the key to balance this holiday program with increases in the main hotel costs: the labor cost, with a 4.5% increase in wages signed last week, a 20% increase in food and drinks and 150% of the energy cost”, lamented the president of Hosbec, Toni Mayor.
“There is no argument to deny the economic update of the Imserso program, that is why we ask for the immediate resignation and relief of the minister because it is not a success but rather ruin for many businessmen after two years of unprecedented suffering,” Mayor added.
They are not alone. In this ‘fight’ against the Ministry they have the Generalitat Valenciana as an ally. The regional secretary of Tourism of the Government of Ximo Puig, Francesc Colomer, described as “error” a decision that puts Imserso “at obvious risk” “due to lack of sensitivity and reflexes.” In fact, the perception of Tourism is that there will be “desertions” of a large part of the hotel industry in the Community to avoid losses, “because it is unacceptable and unsustainable that the program rests on the losses of the sector,” he insisted.
The Generalitat has wanted to act as an intermediary with the Government without being able to achieve a dialogue that would result in an agreement that guarantees the two objectives that the program fulfills. On the one hand, the offer of tourism for the elderly at contained prices and, on the other, maintaining contributions and employment, already very seasonal, which in the Valencian Community alone is estimated at 47,000 jobs.
In this sense, Hosbec recalls that of the investment made by the State each year, which is around 63 million euros, it recovers 110 million, according to its calculations, in Social Security contributions, unemployment benefits that it does not pay and taxes. “The Imserso will have more and more difficulties finding accommodation for the more than 800,000 users of the program and will seriously harm both the elderly and the workers who should have kept their jobs active,” he warns.
It is not the first time that the hoteliers and the Valencian administration have demanded a review of the entire travel program for the elderly, which during the season that closes in June put 816,029 places up for sale, of which 60% were covered.
In March 2021, Turismo Comunidad Valenciana convened a work table between the tourism sector and the autonomous communities with the greatest weight in the program, with the aim of promoting a joint strategy to continue insisting to the Government on the need not only to return to normal but, above all, to agree on new conditions that are adjusted to the reality that the sector is experiencing after the blow caused by the pandemic.
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