Bienvenidos! Tourists invited to rural Spain to save dying villages
A villager drinks coffee at the only bar in Peleas de Abajo, in northwestern Spain, March 8, 2012. REUTERS/Susana Vera
The €10 billion euro ($12.18bn) plan aims to save rural life in a nation where 42% of villages are at risk of depopulation compared to a European Union average of 10%.
"I would especially like to emphasize that (tourists) should enjoy the rich rural tourist attractions that our country has, one of the jewels in the crown," Sanchez told a meeting in Madrid of mayors from rural towns.
From today (24 May), Spain will open up to tourists from outside the European Union deemed low-risk for coronavirus, notably Britain and Japan, who will not be required to show a negative test. Read more.
And from 7 June, Spain will let people from anywhere in the world who are vaccinated against COVID-19 enter the country, hoping to galvanize a recovery in the devastated tourism sector.
Improving digital connectivity for rural holiday companies is part of the plan, which also envisages expanding sustainable tourism.
The left-wing government plans to increase internet access in rural areas, improve transport routes, offer grants for young entrepreneurs and small businesses and launch a rural Erasmus educational scheme.
Sanchez said that Spain’s 47 million people occupy just 12.7% of the land, compared to 67.8% of the territory populated in France and 59.9% of German territory.
Many rural villages have an average density of less than 12 people per square kilometre, the government estimates.
($1 = €0.8211)