How tourism contributes to energize emptied Spain

Destinations

A {2h} works for the development and promotion of rural areas in Spain. How did the idea come about?

The beginnings were in 2016, coinciding with a personal moment of change. After a long time away, I returned to my birthplace, Talavera de la Reina (Toledo), and I realized the resources that exist in rural areas and that tourism can serve to promote towns and places that a priori have difficulties in finding ways of development. We began to work with the idea of ​​verifying whether destinations in the interior of Spain could benefit from responsible proximity tourism.

He wants the ‘emptied Spain’ to gradually become the ‘visited Spain’. How do you hope to achieve it?

There are solutions for emptied Spain and our proposal is that tourism serves as a first impulse: to know and discover a place to generate connection. Through responsible proximity tourism, what we propose is to visit the villages and try to make positive aspects emerge on that first visit and, if the visitor likes the place, perhaps they will return or even make the leap to live there. In this way, income and opportunities are generated for the villages.

To what extent can your project help boost the economy of these areas and even fix the population?

We started talking about tourism for development and in the end we ended up talking more about development through tourism. Through quality, respectful tourism, it is possible to contribute to generating the opportunities that are lacking in the villages. How is it achieved? There must be facilitating elements for this to occur, it is the work that we are doing from A {2h}. Each town has a history, natural and human resources… but many are very small and cannot offer all the services. And here, as a solution, we propose the concept of a region, which does not imply creating regions at an administrative level, but rather that the towns themselves unite and form collaboration networks that allow them to maintain services and thus attract the population.

Territorially, the regional vision is the one that best suits our approach, it gives us more variety and possibilities when defining both product and resources. That is to say, the union between several peoples, which take on sufficient critical mass to ensure services to a population with the attractiveness of a rural life.

The advantages are clear and the question is how do we engage this step, in what way do we make the towns are prepared to receive people and that people who want to make a change in their lives have that possibility.

Pedro Aizpun Alonso started the company in 2016.

How is the project carried out?

We do an analysis of the needs and how to provide solutions to them. We start with what we call a target entity analysis. It is a field work that allows us to get in touch with the companies, institutions and people of the destinations. Once that identity is achieved and agreed with the destination’s stakeholders, we define an action plan, which has to do with giving it visibility and generating tourism product. We then work on the subject of content, texts, videos, we elaborate a catalog of experiences … With them a promotional work begins and, in parallel, we design a tourist product, what we call ‘mini-trips’, which are experiences of one, two or three days. As we are not a travel agency, we work with third parties to market the product.

How do you start a project of this type in a municipality?

So far we have worked with public administrations, especially municipalities, some local action groups, associations and some General Directorate of Tourism, and now we are starting to work with companies.

Can you give us an example of the work done to date?

The one that had the most impact was one we did for the Castilla-La Mancha Directorate General of Tourism, which asked us to position ourselves as a reference proximity destination. We chose five places, one per province and, taking into account different categories – nature tourism, oenological industrial … -, we developed the product. This was followed by a campaign promoting the five destinations as getaway spots.

On the other hand, last year we were working in La Vera (Cáceres) to generate destiny. It is a fairly well-known region, but it had never worked from the point of view of destination. Therefore, we focus more on the identity part, we prepare some videos and even from there a short came out that is being presented at festivals. We also work on promotion, but it was stopped in the product part due to COVID-19.

Another has just started in Burgos …

Six months ago I went to live in Covarrubias, a small town in Burgos. It is a destination with an important tourist trajectory, but they asked us to reposition it towards a more contemporary concept, to attract a new tourist profile. We work on a concept that is like an improvement plan, so that it has continuity, is sustainable and generates a lasting and positive impact on destinations.

Once a project is finished, how do you manage to give it continuity?

In some projects we include training sessions, sometimes they are specific training sessions, sometimes they are put together, in such a way that this action has a path, if we do not run the risk of being only in the campaign format, which gives a lot of visibility to a specific destiny, but we want things to keep happening. That is one of the great challenges, but, depending on budgets and often political decisions, we are more limited. This conditions project management in the medium and long term.