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The crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic has completely convulsed the tourism sector, paralyzing it until it reaches absolute zero tourism on the island of Lanzarote, but also creating new opportunities. And, if something has been encouraged in recent months it has been labor tourism, the so-called ‘remote workers’ or European teleworkers, which thanks to a powerful promotion have increased by 10% per month in the Canary Islands. “Attracting ‘remote workers’ enriches the structure of the Canarian tourism model and represents an opportunity to rejuvenate the destination and refresh the brand, in addition to attracting highly qualified professionals. Teleworkers enjoy a longer stay and work more spending at destination, which extends directly to the entire Canarian economy “
And it is that the Archipelago has put the batteries in this sense. Turismo de Canarias launched this year an action plan endowed with 500,000 euros to attract 30,000 professionals in a decade in order to develop projects lasting between one and three months in the Islands. However, after the achievements made in just half a year, “we can get that number of ‘remote workers’ to arrive in half the time and to execute longer projects, lasting between three and six months, with the increase in spending. in destination that this entails “, explains the counselor.
Industry sources estimate that, at least, in recent months up to 8,000 travelers have chosen the Archipelago to work, from countries such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom and, increasingly, the United States. “Specifically, in a single day in mid-April there were more than 4,000 officially registered people teleworking from the Canary Islands, so the number of ‘remote workers’ who develop projects from the Islands is estimated to be highly higher,” adds the Managing Director of Promotur Turismo de Islas Canarias, José Juan Lorenzo. “We want to continue on this path and place the Archipelago definitely ahead of our competitors,
Mateo Sancho Cardiel and Nelson Núñez Rodríguez: “Lanzarote is already our land”
Lanzarote has not been an exception. This year there have been many “remote workers” who have chosen the island to spend long periods of time. Some have even repeated. Mateo Sancho Cardiel and Nelson Núñez Rodríguez, both university professors at the City University of New York, are a clear example of this. They arrived on the island in mid-October and stayed until mid-December, to later return in mid-February and stay until early May. “As all the classes were going to be online and the city of New York had limited its gastronomic, cultural offer, and, finally, its life, plus winter, which is always more to be inside, we imagine working in front of the sea, good weather , good gastronomy internet guarantee: the Canary Islands was the best option among other valued ones ”.
Since Mateo is Spanish, she had no problem traveling to Spain with her husband. So they didn’t think about it. “It was the first time that we teleworked, and it is not very frequent in our environment, but we felt like it. It has the advantage that you can choose a different place than where you live, get to know another culture, reality, and enjoy nature, etc ”, he points out. “The experience was not good, it was tremendous. In fact, in the second stage we valued going to Mexico and Costa Rica, but the Canary Islands triumphed. The security of the internet connection was essential. I think that destinations that seek to attract teleworkers should guarantee a good internet connection (including specific speed in the information (saying “good or stable or fast” is very diffuse), some medical security, etc. The Canary Islands have it all ”.
During these months he has stayed in Órzola and La Graciosa, and one of the reasons for choosing Lanzarote was his passion for Saramago, whose name is linked to the island in the popular imagination. “We have been able to do everything. From reading at Casa de José Saramago on Book Day, visiting Playa Blanca, Playa Quemada, Puerto del Carmen, Yaiza, Los Hervideros, El Golfo, Tías, Timanfaya, La casa del campesino, Ye, Haría, Teguise, Punta Mujeres, Guatiza , Arrieta, Cueva de los Verdes, Corona Volcano, Jameos del Agua, attend cultural activities at El Almacén in Arrecife, Teguise, La Santa, Papagayo Beach, Famara, Mirador del Rio, Jardin de Cactus … ” “But we have also enjoyed the local gastronomy, buying fresh fish, going regularly to the El Puente bookstore, visiting Fuerteventura, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria … . We visited La Graciosa, and we stayed a month, at the end. Lanzarote is already part of us, we are making our own the phrase of Jose Saramago: “Lanzarote is not my land, but it is my land”, it is also ours ”.
This couple living in New York recommends the experience of teleworking in the Canary Islands to everyone and they make some suggestions. “It would be very good if the City Council offered some type of medical insurance and a guarantee of a secure Internet connection, regardless of what the house has,” he says. “We bought ourselves a router and so we had internet beyond the house and a second connection at home. The landlords should announce that the house has a set-up, a table, a private space to work… ”.
Rufo de La Rosa. “My friends tell me that I look like the island’s ambassador”
Another case of a digital nomad is that of Rufo de la Rosa who arrived in Lanzarote for the first time in November 2020. “I came from Madrid to spend 3 weeks on vacation and visit two friends. When I arrived on the island I fell in love with the landscape, nature and the possibility of doing sports every day ”, he says. “With the evolution of the pandemic in the peninsula, my family decided not to celebrate Christmas in order not to be exposed to the virus. When the vacation days were nearing the end, I decided to extend my stay in Lanzarote without a return date. By then I already had a large group of friends and I loved being able to work in a more relaxed environment than the big city, with a fantastic climate and being able to go jogging, surfing, climbing… at the end of the workday ”.
Rufo assures that he has not been the only one. “We have made a group of friends and we have all had a similar experience, we came to spend a few days and we ended up living in Lanzarote for almost half a year” –
Although he is now on the peninsula, he intends to return “in a few weeks to continue living and enjoying the island. I know that the intention of many of my friends is to return as well, although perhaps starting in September, after spending time closer to home and friends ”.
For Rufo it was not his first time telecommuting. “Previously, I worked several days a week from home. He did it mainly for productivity reasons. When you work at home you tend to have fewer interruptions from colleagues and it is easier to concentrate, ”he explains. “Besides this, I also used to work remotely in the summer months. These are months in which, since there is less workload and the city is quieter, I could take the opportunity to work from Granada, Malaga or Galicia, where my girlfriend is from. I have also lived in other countries, such as Singapore, where when my work did not require being in person, I took the opportunity to work weeks from Indonesia, Thailand … to combine work with tourism ”.
In your case it is not uncommon for this to happen. “I work in the technology sector and it is very common for these companies to be flexible for remote work. There is a lot of confidence in the responsibility of employees to work from home or in cities far from the office ”, he assures. “In any case, it is true that with the pandemic a further step has been taken in allowing remote work and I am seeing how companies present themselves as totally remote because they know that it is an incentive to attract talent. My opinion is that, for the technology sector, it will be a standard in the coming years, the strange thing will be to see a company that is not remote ”.
For this young man the experience has been very good. “During the 6 months that I have been in Lanzarote, I have lived between Famara and La Santa. My first destination was Famara because it is where my friends were and I liked the environment with young people and ease of doing sports ”, he says. “A few months later I decided to move to La Santa because I was looking for a quieter place that would ensure a good internet connection and telephone coverage, which is a problem in Famara. In addition, the negotiation of rental prices in Famara became a problem because we were always exposed to price increases from one month to the next, having to leave because an Airbnb reservation was coming in … it did not give me the peace of mind and stability that I need . In La Santa,
Rufo assures that “during the time that I have been on the island I have not been very exposed to the covid and that is a liberation. Speaking with friends, on the peninsula talking about covid was the order of the day. In addition, the island allows you to easily disconnect from work. The moment I close the computer and go outside, I have many options of places to visit, practice sports, etc., so it is the perfect balance for a remote work destination ”, and he points out. “I highly recommend it. My friends say that I seem like an ambassador of the island because I just talk about it and invite them to come and spend a few seasons here. I hope that in the future the island will be where I spend part of the year. I will surely continue to be linked to Madrid, which is where my company is based, or Granada, where I am originally from,
Javier López López: “Lanzarote takes a little piece of my heart”
arrived in Lanzarote in February of this year. “Some acquaintances had been working remotely from Lanzarote for a few months and their photos of volcanic beaches and palm groves tempted me. In my case, I had been working at Erasmusu.com for years and having already completed my cycle at the company I co-founded, I wanted a change of scene, ”he explains. “Desperate to abandon once and for all the routine that had absorbed me during the months of the pandemic, I packed my bags, my antigen test (which they checked very well on arrival) and took the first plane that left for the island. A dry and sunny climate, aloes, volcanoes and the architecture of César Manrique welcomed me with open arms ”.
Javier came with a return ticket for a month. “But I remembered something that a very wise person once told me:” I never run to catch a plane. ” So I decided to lose the ticket and stay indefinitely. Although I already feel that my stage on the island is over and I will soon return ”, he explains.
It was not the first time for Javier, who in fact has worked remotely on several occasions over the last 12 years. “I spent three months working remotely from Japan. And a year telecommuting from Belgium. Both were extraordinary experiences, ”he explains. “Digital nomadism has a lot of glamor lately, but the truth is that it is something that has been done for years. Not everything is lights, it also has its cons. But in general, at least for me, it more than compensates for the enriching experience ”.
Javier explains that this option is quite common in his environment. “Many of those who work remotely on design or development issues, especially if it is on their own, have at least thought of traveling and working remotely. It is something that allows asynchronous work and does not require being physically in a place. Logically, the pandemic has slowed down the places from which it is possible to work remotely, but there are always alternatives if you have the great fortune of having personal and professional freedom to work online ”, he explains. “In this case, it has been a magical experience that has allowed me to get to know Lanzarote and enjoy one of my passions: photography. Lanzarote takes a little piece of my heart ”.
It is not surprising because he has not stopped doing things. “The first month I spent in the interior, in San Bartolomé. And the next three months in Famara. During this time I have visited practically every corner of the island to the point that I am creating a free guide, emphasizing sustainability, for future tourists ”, he says. “The landscapes are captivating. The calm and friendly people. And the gastronomy, rich in fish and shellfish, is a delight; I also love the goat meat stews, the cheeses and the vegetables of the island ”.
For López, remote work is highly recommended. “In fact, some acquaintances are working on a project to create a hub for digital nomads who want to enjoy Lanzarote. It would be very interesting to attract talent, both from entrepreneurs and investors, who can also help the local ecosystem. In other words, that local entrepreneurs have access to capital from investors who work remotely from the island for a time and can exchange knowledge with other Spanish and international entrepreneurs who come to the island ”, he says. “It will be important to work towards making it fully sustainable. Of course, this type of tourism, by coexisting on the island for a time with the locals and adapting to the environment, can be far less abrasive than traditional tourism ”.
Javier López (https://twitter.com/javilop)
Report published in the Lancelot newspaper in June.