Rural occupancy figures for Easter Week are close to 76%.
Eurona has increased its satellite capacity and offers ultra-fast broadband Internet to boost the economy and tourism in these areas
72% of rural tourists already prefer to book online, according to the Rural Tourism Observatory collected by Eurona, the multinational company specialising in bringing satellite Internet to empty Spain; a figure that puts tourism in these areas in check, bearing in mind that 13.4% of Spanish municipalities do not have access to quality Internet.
According to figures from this study carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, the majority of rural tourists prefer to book online (71.8%), with email (9.5%) being the second option. This preference for the online world has been growing year after year, while the owners of rural accommodation are still anchored to traditional booking systems such as telephone and only 18.5% of them manage their bookings through the online channel.
These data show that, despite the good prospects for the sector this Easter - occupancy is close to 76% in the face of the mobility limitations imposed by the pandemic, according to casasrurales.net - accommodation and tourist businesses in rural areas are still facing a lack of opportunities and possibilities caused by an unequal Internet connection. All this in a context where, although tourists seek to disconnect from their daily life in the city, they also want to remain connected to the advantages and facilities provided by Internet access.
Because tourists no longer only use the connection to find accommodation, but also during the course of their trip. According to data collected by Eurona, 56.5% of eco-tourists opt for hiking and 58% for local gastronomy where online recommendations from users are key. Resting in rural accommodation is also a favourite activity for 57% of them, although doing so offline is no longer so much a relaxation as a difficulty.
Internet to digitise rural businesses
In view of this situation, Eurona insists on the need for an adequate Internet connection to take advantage of this moment of predilection for rural tourism and for this to become a revulsive factor for the take-off of the local economy in these areas. An ultra-fast broadband Internet connection will allow the digitisation of rural businesses and accommodation, responding to the demands of tourists and squeezing the potential of this sector in the fight against the demographic challenge.
This position, which defends the new opportunities associated with the arrival of quality Internet in these areas, is in line with the recent Plan approved by the Council of Ministers that will mobilise 10,000 million of the funds to fight rural depopulation, as among the measures it proposes is to promote the development of broadband throughout the territory to ensure full connectivity and the digital transition of businesses.
A position further supported by the study, as the areas in which rural accommodation needs the most training and support are online marketing (web positioning, social networks, communication, etc.) (53.9%), followed by new information technologies (42.1%) and product marketing (39.5%), fundamental aspects for the recovery of the tourism industry.
According to Fernando Ojeda, CEO of Eurona, "aware of the disconnection and inequality of opportunities in the rural world, we wanted to anticipate the Government's eurona.com plans and the Digital Spain 2025 agenda, increasing our satellite capacity to 100 Mbps to extend ultrafast broadband to all rural areas. Satellite technology matches the capabilities of fibre optics and immediately brings high-speed Internet to the whole territory, boosting the digitisation and take-off of key sectors for local economies such as tourism".