Italy strives for balance to make tourism more sustainable

Rome, July 12 Over the past two years, Italy’s huge tourism sector has been a mixed bag: first too many tourists invading the country’s most popular places, then almost none. Now, the sector affected by the pandemic is trying to find the right balance between the two extremes.

Prior to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy early last year, the big worry about tourism was overcrowding: the impact on infrastructure, the environment and the quality of life of the residents of several million tourists who have congregated in a handful of places, including Florence, Rome and Venice, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Then, with the pandemic, tourism was all but halted amid coronavirus closures and travel restrictions.

The tourism sector, which was responsible for € 236.4 billion ($ 280.6 billion) in spending in 2019 before the pandemic, produced just € 115.8 billion in the year last, according to data firm Statista.

By most estimates, the industry is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until late 2023 or early 2024.

But political leaders and many workers in the sector are now taking steps to ensure that as the sector strengthens, it avoids the overcrowding issues that marked the pre-pandemic period.

“The aim is to reform the sector so that it offers a higher and more personalized level of service, and less centralized options than before”, Gianfranco Lorenzo, head of the research department of the Florence Tourist Studies Center (CST-Firenze), told Xinhua on Sunday.

“Italy should put less emphasis on reliance on large tourist buses which all stop in parking lots and overwhelm a small town for a few hours, (but promote) higher quality tourism that shows visitors the wonders. of the country beyond the few dozen places that everyone knows about, ”said Lorenzo.

Valeria Minghetti, chief researcher at the Center for International Studies on Tourism Economics at Ca ‘Foscari University in Venice, said the problem of overtourism is not unique to Italy.

She noted that popular tourist destinations in Europe like Amsterdam, Barcelona and Paris have similar problems.

She said these cities should share information and good practices to help change the mindset of the average tourist.

“There is no reason for people to queue to see a famous site when there are many that are equally important and impressive that too few people know,” Minghetti told Xinhua.

These strategies are already under development.

This summer, many cities are trying to draw visitors’ attention to outdoor attractions like sprawling gardens and architectural ruins, where visitors can stay dispersed to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

Before the pandemic, Italy attracted an average of nearly 100 million tourists each year, according to calculations by the Italian Government’s Tourism Office (ENIT).

Disclaimer: This article was posted automatically from an agency feed without any text changes and has not been reviewed by an editor

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