Supporting Locally Owned Businesses Abroad: What are the Benefits?

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Travel Editor Colleen McShane discusses the importance of supporting local businesses when travelling abroad.

As the business world currently returns to the ‘norm’ three years after the initial COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that we, as tourists, support smaller, locally-owned businesses on our travels to ensure the locations we love continue to economically thrive. Spain is a country that thrives off the tourist industry. In July, McKinsey & Company highlighted that “Travel and tourism accounted for around 14% of Spain’s total GDP and provided one in eight jobs.”

Although beneficial to Spain’s economic sphere, supporting their locally owned businesses also allows us to gain insight into authentic Spanish life and experience Spanish culture at its peak. For example, when we move beyond the stereotypical tourist threshold of familiar Irish pubs and Starbucks coffee and reach into the depths of southern Spain, we allow ourselves to discover the beauty of hidden places such as Isla de Tabarca.

This summer, I took a day trip to Isla de Tabarca, a small Spanish islet off the Alicante coast, residing on the Mediterranean Sea. As an isolated island with only 50 registered inhabitants, Tarbarca is home to local culture. I had the pleasure of experiencing the stores that hand-make necklaces made from locally sourced celestite crystals and freshly homemade horchata de chufa, made from tiger-nut milk bought from the local market, Comestibles La Habana.

Beyond economy and finance, there is an enjoyment and undefinable contentment that comes with discovering unfamiliar, local gems abroad. It is rare I reminisce about the Starbucks Refresha I scoured for once I stepped off the aeroplane. I do, however, remember the long strip filled with art, antiques, and authentic Spanish seafood in Tabarca.