Rural tourism plays a very important role in helping to reduce depopulation in rural areas of Spain, as it is an opportunity for economic and demographic empowerment for those rural areas that are suffering the reduction of basic services and quality of life. With rural tourism, work opportunities in rural areas are increased, either through rural accommodations or by attracting diners to restaurants in the area.
It is true that rural tourism is not the definitive solution in this aspect, since the collaboration of other factors is needed to achieve the consolidation of a repopulation in rural areas. One of these factors is the industrialization of these rural areas, which encourages the construction of new jobs and helps cement the pillars towards a positive demographic rate continued over time.
However, in this article we will look at the five main factors that affect rural tourism and related activities that help or can help solve the problem of depopulation in the villages and rural areas of Spain.
Rural tourism is a sector of the economy that grows every year, both in tourists from Spain and abroad. Sample of this is that from 2017 to 2018 tourists have increased by 5.64%; but this growing trend continues since 2013, because since this year until 2018 tourists have increased by 69.39%, which represents an average growth of 11.12% per year (statista.com data).
This growth trend becomes a business opportunity for entrepreneurs who wish to open a rural accommodation. With booming rural tourism it is easier to attract investment, as well as young people to manage these rural accommodation.
All this helps the villages and rural areas of Spain do not suffer depopulation, encourages young people not to leave the village to the city to find work, makes rural areas better known both nationally and internationally and attracts new inhabitants in the search to take advantage of the opportunity offered by rural tourism.
Having made reference to the main infrastructure necessary to attract tourists to rural areas suffering from depopulation, rural accommodation, we must value what makes each rural destination unique.
Most of the villages and rural areas of Spain have a unique cultural heritage, from religious buildings such as churches, convents and hermitages, to the typical streets preserved from different periods such as the Roman, Islamic or Christian.
Another characteristic of small villages and rural areas, is the whole environment of nature and countryside that surrounds them. This provides a great added value to rural tourism, since it allows to cover the requirements of a wide range of tourists, from the most intrepid lovers of rural activities to those seeking tranquility and peace of nature.
For all this, make an active publicity of the different monuments and places of interest that we can find in each village or rural area is essential to be known and attract visitors. An example of promotion, is to show through images and videos these sites, as well as to inform about the history that makes them special; as well as, when exposing all this information, it is interesting to publish it in the main Internet media and make use of social networks as one of the main tools for dissemination.
A strategy like this, carried out by the people who manage the villas and holiday homes, the institutions responsible for promoting tourism in rural areas and even by the inhabitants of each village or rural area, makes it possible to achieve greater visibility and greater scope of possible tourists fighting depopulation in this way.
In line with the previous point in which the importance of the cultural and natural heritage of the villages and rural areas is emphasized, in this section we are going to make reference to the traditional festivities and the local cuisine of these places.
With regard to traditional festivals, villages and rural areas must ensure that these days of celebration are not just a mere entertainment for the inhabitants of the area, but organize a tourist interest festivity where, apart from having fun to the locals, catch the interest of the tourist by showing the customs and traditions of each village or rural area. This can be achieved through the realization of cultural activities, traditional dances, gastronomic tastings, etc. And this is where local cuisine comes into play, since it allows the organization of different themes of festivities such as a local product fair or a contest of typical dishes.
But gastronomy not only helps to celebrate festivities, but it can also try to take advantage of that competitive advantage provided by specialization in those typical dishes of the area. In this way, local restaurants can attract a large number of tourists interested in tasting traditional dishes from each place and can make synergies with rural accommodation so that they advertise among themselves and even stay + food packages are carried out.
These are some of the ideas that can be played with respect to traditional festivals and local cuisine. However, this is always susceptible to a study in which it is valued what really works and what is not, so that there is no need to do work in vain when you are fighting against the depopulation of villages and rural areas.
Another of the most effective ways to attract tourists is through active tourism. Taking advantage of the resources that nature gives us, this form of tourism is carried out by carrying out tourist activities in natural environments, enjoying the orography left by the mountains, the current of a river or the wind of each place.
This type of tourism is requested by people who like adventure and adrenaline, and for this, companies dedicated to active tourism, are responsible for providing the material and skill to perform the activities they offer. In this way, the municipalities that suffer depopulation in Spain can offer their natural environment, not only as a space of peace and tranquility, but as an opportunity to live an adventure enjoying nature.
To be able to offer this type of tourism, the first thing is to know well the natural resources available to the municipality in question for the realization of this type of activities and, once we have done this, we just have to take imagination to think what activities could be carried out, such as bungee jumping, climbing, paragliding, rafting, hiking trails, trekking, etc.
Once we have the activity or activities of active tourism located, it is time to promote them, and in this case we could use the same example of the previous cases, through the diffusion through Internet, especially social networks, and with the realization of synergies with the rural accommodations.
One of the main problems that villages and rural areas suffer from depopulation in Spain is the lack of connection both to the Internet, and through transport services that allow tourists to visit the municipality and the inhabitants to go to the city.
The way to solve this problem is complex, since it is one of the criteria that tourists take into account when going to one destination or another and, since there are no tourists or a solid economy, companies do not have great incentive in facilitate these services, so it is vicious circle without getting any solution.
To fight against this, one of the strategies that can be followed by the inhabitants of these villages that suffer from depopulation is to enhance the attractions of the previous points, so that this problem becomes residual when it comes to choosing the place to visit by the tourist. In this way, a rural tourism independent of the Internet connection and the lack of public transport can be strengthened and an attempt to get out of the loop, through the construction of a solid economy, to get enough growth getting the implementation of networks of Internet and transport.
Thus, rural tourism provides villages and rural areas with the problem of depopulation in Spain the opportunity to grow in inhabitants, entrepreneurs, tourists, infrastructure and visibility through sustainable development of the economy, respectful of the environment.