Italy’s tourism industry reports €120 billion loss in 2020

Italy lost a total of €120.6 billion over the course of 2020 due to the pandemic and restrictions on travel and tourism, the World Travel & Tourism Council has revealed.  

Tourism in Italy
Photo: Miguel Medina&AFP

The loss equates to a 51 percent decrease in tourism’s contribution to Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP). 

Only 25.5 million foreign visitors spent at least one night in Italy last year, in comparison to 65 million in 2019 – a fall of more than 60 percent.

The lucrative sector accounted for up to 14 percent of Italy’s GDP before the pandemic hit.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s ‘Covid-free islands’ vaccine plan hopes to save summer travel

The latest statistics released by the WTTC in the annual Economic Impact Report (EIR), suggest that a total of 337,000 people working in the travel and tourism industries in Italy have been left unemployed.

Nearly 100,000 companies in Italy’s tourism sector are at risk of bankruptcy due to the travel restrictions in place, according to research institute Demoskopika.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO of the WTTC told “The situation could have been far worse if it were not for the government’s Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria scheme, which supported up to 80 percent of a worker’s salary and kept many people in their jobs whilst the Travel & Tourism sector continued to suffer”.

Photo: Vincenzo PINTO/AFP

The report also showed that domestic visitor spending had decreased by 49.6 percent, due to travel restrictions within the country, while international spending was down by 62 percent.

 “Another year of terrible losses can be avoided if the government supports the swift resumption of international travel, which will be vital to powering the turnaround of the Italian economy,” Guevara added.

 Based on the data, Guevara expects that the travel and tourism industry could recover this year, saying its contribution to GDP could increase by 48.5 percent if international travel resumes by June 2021.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s crisis-hit economy set to improve in the coming months?

While Italy’s government on Friday set out a roadmap for some business reopenings, it has not yet given a firm date for restarting holiday travel in summer.

Under current restrictions, people living in Italy are currently prohibited from travelling between regions or towns for non-essential reasons, making even domestic tourism impossible.

Also on Friday, Italy’s state-run railway began operating the first “Covid-free” high-speed train service, which is among a string of initiatives aimed at allowing tourism to restart this summer.

Italy’s holiday islands are pushing for all residents to be vaccinated as a priority, Italian media reported on Monday.

Italian airline Alitalia last year launched Covid-tested flights on selected domestic and international flights.

While some travel restrictions still apply, US passengers are allowed to avoid spending 14 days in isolation if they travel on special flights from New York or Atlanta to Rome.

The EU’s Digital Green Certificates, due to be released in June, could help this to become a reality however Italy has not yet confirmed it will be taking part in the scheme.

The proposed Digital Green Certificates will have information on whether a traveller has been vaccinated or not, if they have received a negative test result, or if they have recovered from Covid-19, allowing them to travel throughout the bloc more easily, the European Commission website states.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”