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30 mayo 2024

Teruel, a southern European province, taking off into the future

The territory has undergone a substantial change in recent decades and now looks ahead with several projects and strengths, such as its airport, tourism and gastronomy, which augur well for the future.

The president of the Provincial Council of Teruel (DPT), Manuel Rando, recently said that Teruel had undergone “a beastly transformation” in the last 40 years. He said that, at that time, parents encouraged their children to go abroad to study in order to live in a better world. A story that contrasts with the present, when the province looks to its future with several leading projects; also, having reference brands in Spain and Europe that place it in a magnificent position to face challenges such as depopulation or the creation of infrastructures.

Data such as unemployment highlight this new reality in the province. With an unemployment rate of 6.53% in the third quarter of 2022, Teruel, in fact, is looking for workers, according to Rando, who estimated that the business world needs 5,000 jobs.

Because, on the economic level, the territory has made a Copernican turn with projects such as its airport. Once questioned by some, this facility has demonstrated its profitability in its almost 10 years of operation and next year will have a new hangar with the capacity to park giants such as the Airbus A-380. The importance of this project is such that the Teruel Investment Fund (FITE) dedicates its largest allocation, 8.9 million, to this airport facility.

A high-flying airport

The creation of space for these giants will not be the only measure that the infrastructure will soon have. Thus, in the next few weeks the process for the concession of use of the paint hangar will be concluded, whose income is estimated to amount to 755,000 euros. This new element is, as recently highlighted by the Minister of Territorial Planning, Mobility and Housing, José Luis Soro, a way to move towards the airport working “all the activities involved in the process of aircraft”.

Last week, the airport had 96 aircraft parked and the maximum number of aircraft grounded this year was 110, well above the average of around 80 recorded in the years prior to the pandemic; growth that is also reflected in the plans for its future expansion, for which almost 3 million euros in expropriations have already been paid.

FITE, from 15 to 60 million

The FITE (Program for the promotion of investment in the province of Teruel), co-financed by the central and regional governments, is a fund that highlights the take-off of investment in the province. When it was created, its budget was 15 million, while this year’s budget has already reached 60 million. And, added to what has already been invested by both administrations throughout the current legislature, an investment of more than 292 million euros will have been completed.

This fund and its allocations are also being used to carry out various strategic projects in the province. Initiatives such as Galáctica, the Javalambre astrophysical observatory, which will receive 2.4 million from the FITE, or the Dinópolis leisure and science park, which will receive 2 million. This space, by the way, attracted 51,246 people to its headquarters in the capital during the months of June, July and August alone, and since it opened its doors in 2001, 3,400,000 tourists have already visited it.

As a sign of the relevance of this center dedicated to dinosaurs, which began its activity in 2001, it was estimated that the economic impact during its first decade amounted to 1,564 million euros.

Young people and fiber optics

Investments in the promotion of young people also reflect the changing times in the province. Some of them, announced as recently as last week, when the president of the Aragonese Executive, Javier Lambán, learned about the project to reopen the Luis Buñuel residence of the Aragonese Youth Institute (IAJ) in Teruel, in which 11.2 million euros will be invested (4.3 million euros, corresponding to the FITE).

This project seeks to recover the residence for university or vocational training students and includes a hostel area for young people visiting the city and a housing area for those seeking to become independent. It will also include spaces for business development and multipurpose areas open to residents.

In terms of infrastructure, the effort made by institutions such as the DPT for the deployment of fiber optics in a large province with no less than 236 municipalities is noteworthy. Its president affirmed, in an interview in this media a month ago, that 100% of the towns and neighborhoods of Teruel will have access to this service.

Tourism and gastronomy, two quality mainstays

One of the best-known brands that most identifies the province beyond its borders is Teruel Ham, a label that became the first Designation of Origin dedicated to this product in Spain and which, almost 40 years after its creation, continues to be a reference for its excellent value for money.

But Teruel’s gastronomy is not only about ham. In fact, the province is a world leader in the production and export of black truffles (‘tuber melanosporum’) and its collectors and truffle growers have already begun the process to have it recognized with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) seal.

And, beyond that, the province also stands out for its production of saffron, pâtés, cheeses such as tronchón and, of course, its olive oils, which are under the umbrella of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Aceite del Bajo Aragón.

These gastronomic attractions join the natural and historical attractions of a province with treasures such as the Albarracín and Gúdar-Javalambre mountain ranges, or the Mudejar architecture that can be enjoyed in the capital itself. These issues are reflected in a growing tourism, with more and more visitors from communities such as the Basque Country or Andalusia and from countries such as France, Germany, England, Italy, the United States or Mexico.

In short, and despite the economic and political turbulence that has shaken the world in recent years, Teruel continues to move towards a promising future. Because, as Rando pointed out a month ago, “the dark and black Teruel that some people painted, victimizing, is proving to be nothing at all”.

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