With the vaccination campaign picking up pace and the planned introduction of a ‘green pass‘ to allow tourism to restart, the industry is awakening from its lockdown slumber and preparing to welcome tourists again.
According to a study by research agency, Demoskopia, in conjunction with the University of Sannio, over 23 million extra tourists are expected between June and September, compared with the same period last year.
The regions of Puglia, Tuscany and Sicily take the top spots for the predicted most-visited destinations. They’re followed by Emilia-Romagna and Sardinia as the tourist hubs for summer 2021.
With Puglia at the top of the list, expecting some four million visitors from within the EU alone, is the region prepared for a summer of tourism?
Forming the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’, this region’s stunning coastline and beaches are a huge draw for holidaymakers – and authorities have been busy ensuring those picture perfect seascapes are in top shape, following a study in May deeming the water quality “excellent”.
The Regional Agency for Environmental Prevention and Protection (ARPA) found that the coastline has met the highest quality for bathing standards.
The agency’s environmental analyst, Pietro Petruzzelli said, “For the city of Bari, it is hugely satisfying to be able to count on 42 kilometres of coastline that are safe from a health and hygiene point of view – all the more so if the assessment is ‘excellent’ everywhere in terms of water quality.”
He also expects water sports to feature in people’s Puglia holidays: “Excellent water quality can help give new life to water sports activities that, like all sports, have had to suffer an inevitable slowdown due to the health emergency,” he added.
The region that’s famously home to vineyards, renaissance art and breathtaking coastlines is prepared for the influx of tourists, but with “virtuous behaviour and respect for the rules”.
Marras added, “It will be a safe holiday in our region. Of course, prudence is a must.”
In Tuscany, 4.1 million tourists are expected this summer season, according to the Demoskopika study. That’s a 13.6% rise on last year’s figures.
“Certainly, it will take time to make up for lost ground and this summer will also have its limitations. But we will be able to manage the situation in the best possible way thanks to the professionalism of all the operators in the sector,” said Marras.
“The towns are also ready to organise, as far as possible, events that will give tourists the best possible welcome,” he added.
Such events include city festivals in Florence, from the Florence Jazz Festival to the ‘Apriti Cinema‘ (Open Cinema).
The magical floating city is relaunching itself this month with the opening of the International Architecture Exhibition (Biennale Architettura) on 22nd May and the Venice Boat Show (Salone Nautico) on 29th May.
“We will be the first to resume with events in attendance, but we need clear indications from the government,” said Tourism Councillor Simone Venturini in an interview on the city’s website.
€1 million are being pumped into the coastal towns to ensure the beaches are of a high standard to attract potential travellers.
And the island is going ahead with more than just gorgeous beaches for people to relax on.
The tourism board is also planning the Rally Italia Sardegna, a car-racing event that “contributes to promoting tourism and the image of the island nationally and internationally”, said Gianni Chessa, Regional Councillor for Tourism, during a video meeting with the event organisers on Friday.
Italy’s ‘Covid-free islands’
Dozens of small islands around Italy are gearing up for tourists with complete vaccination rollouts.
Mass vaccinations are also underway at other islands close by, including Ischia and Capri, and at various islands off the coast of the country, such as the Pontine islands in Lazio, the Tremiti in Puglia, Capraia and Giglio in Tuscany, and the Maddalena archipelago off Sardinia.
It isn’t just a move to encourage tourists to visit. Procida’s mayor Dino Ambrosino said, “Small islands in Italy are fragile territories that often have limited health services.”
As Italy reopens as a whole, the plan is to “relaunch Italian tourism”, according to the president of Demoskopika, Raffaele Rio.
“They are encouraging estimates for the recovery but we need to play in advance with a recovery plan for 2022-2023… which fuels the restart and stimulates domestic and international demand for Italy,” he added.