In the coming weeks, the Canary Islands will launch its campaign aimed at attracting remote workers from across the EU.
Yaiza Castilla, the regional official in charge of tourism explains, “The Covid-19 pandemic put this market in the spotlight. It could be a huge opportunity for us to recoup tourism.”
Her government estimates that the number of tourists arriving to the islands this year could fall by a massive 66 per cent, dealing a huge blow to one of Europe’s most tourism-dependent regions.
Last year more than 15 million tourists visited the Canary Islands, resulting in around 40 per cent of jobs on the islands.
Their new campaign has been partly guided by the remote working communities that have grown up in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, said Nacho Rodríguez, founder of Nomad City, an annual event in the Canary Islands that focuses on remote work.
“What has changed is that now they understand what remote work really is, as they’ve been forced to work remotely themselves for months,” he said. “We’re no longer the crazy guys talking about remote work.”
Rodríguez is now pushing the regional government to broaden the appeal of its pitch by encouraging Madrid to create special visas for nationals of non-EU countries.
As many companies in the UK and Europe had to adjust their company structures to allow for staff to work from home during the lockdown phases of the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work has become part of the ‘new-normal’ we find ourselves living in.
So, are you considering working overseas? Well, officials from around the globe have tried to slow the collapse of tourism by promoting a move overseas to remote workers, with offers of sunny beaches and a cheaper cost of living.
As companies begin to embrace remote working, it’s down to countries to accommodate “digital nomads” – the growing number of people who rely on laptops and Wi-Fi connections to do their job from anywhere in the world, by making working Visas more accessible.
Those who come for longer stays are less vulnerable to flight cancellations and delays caused by the pandemic, and they come with their own jobs – a key factor in a region where unemployment hovered at around 21 per cent before the pandemic.
Most crucially, these travellers often spend more widely across the islands. “They don’t just go to a certain restaurant, but to the supermarket,” she said. “They go to opera festivals or they’ll book a flight and a hotel to spend the weekend visiting other islands.”
The beautiful city of Valencia has also been looking into this segment of travellers. “We have to make it simpler to come here than any other place,” said Javier Mateo of Valencia Tech City. Cities are crying out for staff who can speak foreign languages and streamlining the process for foreigners to find longer-term accommodation, office space and open bank accounts is necessary to entice remote workers to make the big move abroad.
So, are you still considering working overseas? Both the Canary Islands and mainland Spain have a keen interest in securing these ‘digital nomads’ as future residents, however, this stems not solely from the plunge in tourist numbers but also from the lessons learned as resorts across Spain wrestle with “drunken tourism”, he said. “There are some areas, unfortunately, that have become known as places for those who just want to party,” said Mateo. “When someone comes here to work, even if it’s just for a month or two months, they become temporary neighbours, rather than tourists.”
Health Insurance expert Haylee, from Golden Leaves International, explained “At Golden Leaves we offer health insurance that is accepted for residency applications and help our clients through the whole process. It can be confusing and intimidating when you don’t speak the language. It’s not a service we charge for, obviously, the insurance policy needs paying for, but we try our best to help with the whole application process for residency. The majority of our clients come recommended by existing customers that we have helped. The complicated nature of the application process can be quite off-putting for people looking to move to Spain to live and work, if this process was simplified, I’m sure Spain would see a quick rise in remote workers making this beautiful country their home”.
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