Spain offers retirees – including expats – subsidised holidays

by admin

Pensioners in Spain receive a bonus that many can only dream of. Millions of older adults – both Spaniards and foreigners living in Spain – are entitled to highly subsidised holidays.

The social program is regulated by the Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (IMERSO). This holiday subsidy was introduced by the Spanish government in 2021. Since the post-COVID revival, it has become increasingly popular. Read everything you need to know about the program here.

What is the IMERSO program for subsidised holidays?

The Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (IMERSO) is a government agency responsible for the management of social services. One of their main goals is to make affordable holidays possible for older people in Spain. The idea is that a holiday can improve the health and quality of life of retirees. That is why the subsidy makes a holiday more affordable. And with better health, older people make less use of social aid budgets. It is also hoped that an occasional trip will improve their self-reliance.

The program also benefits the economy and the tourism sector. The subsidised trips must take place in the low season – usually between October and June. This means that more people work in this sector for a longer period of time.

Who is eligible for subsidised holidays in Spain?

In this context, there is good news for members of Spain’s large expat community, which is one of the largest in Europe. Not only Spaniards, but also people with a legal residence in Spain can enjoy the trips.

The following people can apply for the program, regardless of whether they are Spaniards or live abroad:

  • You are retired and receive a Spanish state pension
  • 55 years and older and recipient of a widow’s or widower’s pension
  • You are 60 years or older and receive unemployment benefit or social assistance
  • You are 60 years or older and belong to the Spanish social security system.

However, registration does not guarantee participation. The government gives priority to older people, people with less financial resources, people with disabilities and people from large families. Also, first-time applicants will be given priority, as well as persons willing to travel in the low season (October-June).

If you are accepted, you can travel alone or with your spouse, partner or a disabled child, even if they do not meet the conditions themselves.

Cogesa Expats

What type of travel does the program offer?

Most trips take place within Spain, some go to Portugal. For the short trips, which cost around €115, holidaymakers usually go to a typical “short holiday destination” in the domestic provinces and stay there for an average of four days. The trips, which cost €455, usually last 10 days. Here beneficiaries often go to the coastal areas or the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands. For particularly income-poor individuals, prices may be even lower. Transport, accommodation and meals are usually included, as well as access to group insurance and a socio-cultural programme. A total of 886,269 places are available this season. That is 70,000 more than last year.

New cultural routes

The number of provinces involved in the program has increased, and there are now ten new cultural routes, 19 new nature routes and an increased number of single room places. This has increased from 2% to 10%. Those travelling to areas of special cultural interest can look forward to itineraries with literary, musical, dramatic or gastronomic cultural themes.

How can I register for IMERSO’s affordable holiday?

Participants can book their trips to the destinations via the official website (in Spanish) using their identity card. There is also the possibility of booking with the ID card in a travel agency approved by the IMERSO tourism program.

Although there is no guarantee of a place, a significantly increased budget of €300 million is available for the 2023/4 season so that more people can access these trips.

Also travelling outside Spain and Portugal?

Trips outside Spain are currently only offered by IMERSO in Portugal. However, Spanish tourism authorities hope to expand the program across Europe. Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism Fernando Valdés previously suggested that millions of European retirees could benefit from a similar scheme if other countries set up a similar project.

Until then, the Spanish government will continue to expand its own program. The IMERSO hydrotherapy program was recently introduced. That gives retirees access to spas across the country, which are often unaffordable for people on low incomes.

Also read: Thousands of jobs in Spain at risk due to IMERSO’s postponement of senior travel

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