Tourism in Italy after Covid: how to start again?

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The numbers are such as to make your wrists tremble: 245 million missed appearances, and 14 million less turnover than in 2019 make the tourism sector one of those that has suffered the most – from an economic point of view – from the Covid19 pandemic and the related lockdowns. They discussed it (remotely, in a meeting promoted by the Civita association together with Ansa) Lorenza Bonaccorsi, Undersecretary of MiBACT, Bernabò Bocca, President of Federalberghi, Tommaso Sacchi, Councilor for Culture, Fashion, Design and International Relations of the Municipality of Florence and Simonetta Giordani, General Secretary of Civita, the association founded in 1987 to save the ancient village of Civita di Bagnoregio, which has since expanded its field of action to enhance the cultural and environmental heritage of our country.

The photos of the deserted Italian cities of art during the lockdown that began in March went around the world, impressing all those who perhaps had never seen Venice without tourists, or Piazza della Signoria in Florence populated only by sculptures: images of poignant beauty that have however highlighted how the presence of visitors (especially foreigners) is closely linked to the daily life of some of the most beautiful cities in the country, which therefore function as a real driving force for the entire sector tourist. How to cope then with the real tsunami represented by the pandemic, while avoiding falling back into those problems of gentrification and overtourism which, underlines Simonetta Giordani, have represented for a long time one of the limits of tourism in the art cities of Italy?

The first interventions to be implemented are obviously of an economic nature, given that the pandemic is not yet over; in this sense, undersecretary Bonaccorsi underlines, the suspension of TOSAP (the tax for the occupation of public land) and therefore the possibility for bars and restaurants to go beyond the physical confines of the venue, to set up tables also on the streets and squares – thus maintaining the right distance between customers without decreasing the number of customers too much – together with refreshments provided for the sector, they can give a little oxygen to those activities that have decided to remain open, but also to those who expect a long suspension, like many hotels that have chosen to continue to keep their doors closed. And in fact, the hotel business has suffered and will continue to suffer again if, as Bernabò Bocca hypothesizes, to revise tourism from the United States it is necessary to wait until at least 2023; what to do in the meantime, as well as counting on local tourism? Redevelop the structures, but to do so, says Bocca, it will be necessary to foresee long-term loans, and that the super bonus for renovations is also granted to hospitality companies, so that the infrastructures can be upgraded and be ready to return to full capacity.

However, it will also be necessary to change things, adjust the shot, and understand that tourism will change, as it is already doing: therefore, more attention to digital, according to Councilor Sacchi, and to accessibility, and to think of a tourism system that does not consume, but allow one indeed sustainable and integrated use of the country. The major attention to nature, interest in villages and small towns is, as Simonetta Giordani remarked, a phenomenon that we have witnessed also in 2020, and it is the one on which Italy must focus in order to restart: greater attention to our widespread heritage, to the connection (physical but also virtual) with the cities of art, and think of a proposal that can combine food and wine, made in Italy, culture and respect for the environment. The pandemic, it has often been said, has represented for many a challenge to get back in the game and start again, just don’t get caught unprepared.

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