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TRAVEL

The parts of Italy that are offering incentives to tempt tourists back

From discounted air fares to bonus nights in hotels, regions all over Italy are offering travellers even more reasons to visit.

The parts of Italy that are offering incentives to tempt tourists back
Sicily is one of Italy's popular tourist destinations hoping to lure visitors back this summer. Photo: Iudovic Marin/AFP

Italy's massive tourism industry has taken a hit from two months of total shutdown and an ongoing ban on visitors from outside Europe.

In a bid to revive the sector, which makes up 13 percent of GDP and 15 percent of jobs, some parts of the country are offering incentives to holiday in Italy this summer – and both domestic and overseas visitors can benefit.

READ ALSO: Why the Italian government might give you up to €500 to go on holiday in Italy

On top of a 'holiday bonus' worth up to €500 for lower-income households in Italy that's funded by the national government, some regions will subsidize your accommodation, waive museum entry fees or hand out discounts on guided tours.  

Here's a guide to what's on offer if you're planning to travel in Italy this summer.

Sicily

The island's government wants to give discounts on plane tickets, subsidise hotel stays and cover the cost of guided tours for visitors arriving in the coming months.

The regional administration has set aside €75 million to buy services from Sicilian tourism businesses, which it will then offer to tourists in the form of pre-paid vouchers. Some of the funds will also go towards covering part of visitors' air fares, by paying airlines to offer discounts to people booking flights to Sicily.

As well as using the vouchers to pay for your accommodation or an excursion with a licensed guide, the first 600,000 visitors will also be able to show them at one of the region's museums or monuments to get free entry.

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The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily. Photo: Iudovic Marin/AFP

The scheme is still at the planning stage, but when the vouchers become available the region has indicated that they'll be distributed by tour operators and travel agents.

Some cities have already begun offering discounts, though – for instance Palermo, where people flying into the city's airport can book four nights for the price of three in participating hotels (more details here).

Piedmont

The northern region is offering tourists three nights for the price of one for the next year as part of its plans to restart tourism.

The regional government will spend at least €5 million on 'holiday vouchers' to subsidise hotel stays. For every three nights that visitors book in Piedmont, the region will effectively pay for one and the accommodation owner another, the government says.

Each traveller can purchase up to ten vouchers, which will be valid until the end of 2021, the regional tourist board told La Stampa. They could go on sale as soon as July 1st, one industry representative told the newspaper, and operators hope to expand the services they can be spent on to include guided tours, excursions and nature lodges. 

READ ALSO: 


Visitors admire the tulips at Pralormo Castle near Turin, Piedmonte. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Alto Adige

The autonomous province of Alto Adige (South Tyrol) plans to offer antibody tests in hotels, both for staff and guests.

The blood tests are voluntary and free for guests, with the cost subsidised by the province. The province is aiming to carry out some 20,000 tests, starting in the towns of Tirol, Merano and Schenna. 

Calabria

In addition to the national government's travel bonus for lower-income families, Calabria is launching its own scheme to help residents afford a holiday this year.

People who live in the region can apply for vouchers worth between €80 for an individual, €160 for two people, €240 for three people and €320 for a family of four or more, to be spent on at least three nights in accommodation within Calabria.

The bonus is only for people who live in Calabria permanently, and who have an annual household income of €20,000 or less.

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The coast of Tropea in Calabria. Photo: sea_and_sunset/Unsplash

Young residents aged 18-24 can also benefit from a separate €200 voucher that they can put towards a trip or other leisure activities in the region.

Marche

Central Marche also has a bonus for residents holidaying within their own region: residents can apply for a one-off payment of €50 per person to spend at least two nights within Marche but outside their own province.

The scheme is open to all adults who live in Le Marche, regardless of income, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

With other regions promising to help out local tourist businesses, there may well be further bonuses to come. We'll update this list with the latest details.

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VENICE

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.

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