Work, family reconciliation or money can often be an obstacle to travel. For this reason, when retirement arrives, there are many who see in this new stage of their lives an opportunity to enjoy those destinations that they could not visit before. This is the case of Leonardo Redondo (73 years old) and Petra Téllez (68 years old), a married couple living in Madrid who have already visited various places in Spain through subsidized trips offered by the Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (Imserso). As Téllez says, traveling this way has advantages: “Before we could travel a little, but it was always on dates when everyone takes vacations. Now that we are retired, we have more free time, so we can take advantage of when there are fewer people and cheaper prices”.
Imserso tour packages are normally scheduled from September to June, although the health crisis due to covid forced the start of this season to be delayed until last January. Due to these circumstances, around 20% of the 816,000 places offered for peninsular coastal destinations and islands and inland tourism are still free.
No destination dethrones the peninsular coast
Due to the ease of getting there by private transport from anywhere on the Peninsula, the Spanish coast —from Andalusia to Catalonia, passing through the Region of Murcia and the Valencian Community— “is the tourist block with the most demand and the one with the most places. they award: about 443,000”, explains Jacob Fernández Blasco, general director at Mundiplan, the agency in charge of managing the destinations of the peninsular coast and islands of the Imserso programs. The prices for these packages are: 196.02 euros for stays of seven nights and 235.95 euros for stays of nine nights, both with full board and not including transport (flights and transfers on trips to the Balearic or Canary Islands). In the case of needing to travel to the destination, the amounts amount to 212.96 and 269.83 euros, respectively.
In the last five years, Carmen Cantarero (69 years old) and Fernando García-Abad (70 years old), both from Tarancón (Cuenca), have visited places on the coast such as Punta Umbría (Huelva) with the trips of the Imserso and, as they say, They have good memories of the experience: “We were in a four-star hotel, and the service and food were fine.”
Both assure that they handle the procedures on the internet quite well, and so far they have not had any problems hiring Imserso trips. The reservation process can be carried out either through the websites of the winning companies (Mundiplan and Social Tourism) or in person at the authorized travel agencies that are distributed throughout the Spanish territory.
For this spring, the Cuenca couple has chosen the Alicante coast, and specifically, a classic of beach tourism such as the city of Benidorm. Traditionally, the coasts of the Valencian Community and Catalonia have been the most popular among this type of traveler to enjoy the sun and gastronomy. However, as Fernández points out, in recent seasons they have noticed the resurgence of Andalusian tourist destinations, especially on the Costa del Sol. With its 150 kilometers of beaches and its cultural and historical offer with places such as the cliffs of Maro, the Balcón de Europa de Nerja y la Cueva, in Torrox, the Malaga coast is a popular holiday enclave for the general public, “and now also for the Imserso traveler due to the large concentration of hotels and its good climate”.
Tranquility and beautiful landscapes, the claim of the archipelagos
Petra Téllez and Leonardo Redondo have taken a liking to travel after retirement. Each year they make between three and four outings. “Sometimes with Imserso, but also with other programs for people over 65 years of age offered, for example, by the Community of Madrid. Or if not, with associations of friends”, tells Téllez.
The director of Mundiplan explains that the profile of retirees is changing: “They are people over 65, but much more active than before, who choose destinations they have never visited more than for the comfort they have already known” . In this sense, the archipelagos —for which a total of 230,000 places are allocated— take on special relevance. The price of the programs with full board and transportation to the Balearic Islands is 308.37 euros for stays of nine nights, and 248.96 euros for seven nights); without transport, 236.07 euros and 195.78 euros, respectively. For the Canary Islands, with full board and transport: 405.53 euros (nine nights) and 330.51 euros (7 nights); without transport, 235.95 euros and 195.75 euros.
Menorca and Lanzarote, both declared biosphere reserves by UNESCO, are examples of the new demands. The Balearic island displays a Mediterranean landscape of white sand beaches and transparent waters, and a peaceful stay during the months of autumn, winter and spring. The volcanic geography of Lanzarote and the Timanfaya National Park are the main attractions of the third most populated island in the Canary archipelago.
Cultural routes and nature in the interior and the north of the peninsula
The Social Tourism agency manages travel offers to the interior of the peninsula, and to Andalusia and the Canary Islands for Spanish pensioners and retirees residing in another European country. A total of 142,000 places for which only 60% have been covered so far. Its manager, Juan Manuel Molina, highlights the great interest aroused by the cultural circuits (271.71 euros for six days with full board and transportation). “These trips, in which excursions are included, they are more participatory and they offer them a different experience than what they are used to”, he points out.
The most popular programs are those that take place in the north of Spain. An example is the cultural circuit through Asturias. The trip begins in its capital, Oviedo, a national and international musical benchmark with programs of zarzuela, opera and other classical genres. In Gijón, the traveler can enjoy its fishing, industrial and sports port or natural spaces such as the Atlantic Botanical Garden or artistic spaces such as the City of Culture Labor Center.
In tours of the Asturian community there is also no lack of experiences in nature with visits to emblematic destinations such as Cangas de Onís, inside the Picos de Europa National Park, from where most excursions depart to visit the Covadonga lakes. The circuit is completed with the municipalities of Villaviciosa, Tazones, Candás and Luanco.
As Molina explains, Imserso offers are adapting to travel trends. Thus, in recent years the social institute has promoted one of its programs for the interior of the peninsula: nature tourism. “More and more people are looking to rest or relax in rural settings and carry out activities in nature with a moderate intensity,” adds the manager of Social Tourism, and highlights the program that is carried out in the mountains of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas. Declared a natural park, this mountainous enclave that includes the provinces of Jaén and Granada impresses with its steep relief and its colossal peaks, such as Las Empanadas, Cabañas or El Yelmo, located around 2,000 meters above sea level. In addition to the natural environment, the Imserso trip offers guided tours to discover the Iberian, Roman and Arab legacy of municipalities such as Cazorla, La Iruela, Baeza, Tíscar and Úbeda.
Imserso trips are aimed at retired people over 65 years of age –residents in Spain or abroad as long as they are pensioners of the Spanish system–. Other profiles such as beneficiaries of the Social Security System (over 65 years of age), widow’s pensioners (over 55 years of age) and other concepts (from 60 years of age), or unemployed people over 60 years who receive a subsidy, in addition to the companions. In this case, they can be spouses, de facto partners or people with whom a stable affective union is established (analogous to the conjugal relationship), and it is not necessary that they meet the age or pension requirements. They may also be accompanied by children with disabilities (to a degree equal to or greater than 45%).
The main requirement is to register with Imserso, online, through the electronic headquarters, completing the request. You can also download it, and once completed and signed, send it by post to section 10140 (28080 Madrid).
Once the user has been registered in the database of the social institute, a date will be provided for the reservation of up to three vacation programs per tourist block (peninsular coast, islands and inland tourism). After that date, the user can continue making reservations for destinations where there are still places available. As Jacob Fernández, director of Mundiplan, explains, Imserso has some three million registered users, so the reservation date allocation system seeks to establish preferential access based on aspects such as the destinations already visited by the beneficiary and your income level.
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