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Developing small rural communities through cultural heritage tourism: A Spanish case

Inland rural areas in Spain have gradually become deprived territories since the migration towards cities that began in the XX century searching for a better life. Agriculture was not the pillar of rural economies anymore on the one hand, owing to periods of bad crops; and on the other, because of the very low prices but high costs involved in harvesting. As a result, young people decided to leave their homeland, looking for a job in the developing industry of big cities. Consequently, small rural areas were left with elderly people, which led to the total abandonment of some villages as old people died. Fortunately, the last years have seen an awakening in promoting rural environments as healthy and homely and therefore, as providers of a better quality of life. For some areas this was feasible thanks to privileged natural environments. However, other inland areas needed to reinvent themselves and benefit from their own valuable assets, i.e. their cultural heritage. The present analysis will introduce a case where a very small village on the Spanish plain has doubled its population in the last 10 years by resorting to their Celtiberian roots. This increase has also meant a significant development in the local community, as small businesses were started up in the wake of the rising number of incoming tourists. Consequently, this also meant jobs and so, young people returned to the rural environment, settling down there and, by starting their own families, increasing the population.


Mercedes Aznar    
Florida Universitaria


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