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TRAVEL

TRAVEL: Italy reports surge in bookings for ‘smart working’ summer holidays

More people are planning to rent holiday homes in Italy this summer, taking advantage of being able to work remotely and enjoy more time away, according to a new report.

TRAVEL: Italy reports surge in bookings for 'smart working' summer holidays
Working with a view. Photo: Ostap Senyuk/Unsplash

The rise of the so-called ‘holiday working’ trend has seen a spike in bookings of longer durations in holiday home rentals across Italy, according to new figures shared by Idealista.

Instead of a holiday lasting a week or ten days, more people are booking longer stays of around three weeks, revealed Marco Celani, CEO of Italianway Research Centre – which analyses bookings made on their holiday home rental site.

“We are aiming for 25 million bookings in 2021, and periods of stay are being extended to three weeks. The Adriatic, Sicily, Sardinia and small towns are doing well,” he said.

READ ALSO: Can Americans travel to Italy for tourism this summer?

Contributing to the boom in bookings is the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and the easing of restrictions, according to Celani.

Additionally, the promise of the upcoming ‘green pass‘ to allow travel has translated into a 33% increase of bookings compared to last year, with peak earnings of €80,000 per day, the findings showed.

Some 35% of the 43,000 nights booked from 1st January – 15th of April 2021 are for holiday working purposes, the report added.

The average length of stay is 19 nights with a budget of €3,243, corresponding to an average rate of €170 per night.

The figures have encouraged the tourism site so much that they have added a section titled, ‘Holiday Working – perfect accommodation for smart working’.

READ ALSO: ‘Smart working’? Here’s what you need to know about going self-employed in Italy

Monopoli in Puglia is one destination high on the ‘Holiday Working’ bookings list. Photo by reisetopia on Unsplash

‘Smart working’ has become the buzz word since Covid-19 hit Italy over a year ago, forcing a change in how businesses operated and dragging the country into a new digital era.

Italy wasn’t previously reputed for its digital flexibility, with many people moving to the country noting the widespread internet connectivity problems.

However, the need to work from home has transformed how people work and live, providing new opportunities for people to freelance in Italy and moving teaching and learning online (DAD – Didattica a Distanza).

READ ALSO: Do you know your DAD from your DOP? The most common Italian acronyms explained

It’s also encouraged some Italian towns and villages to offer financial incentives to those willing to relocate there to work remotely, in the hope of injecting new life and boosting the economy.

And it looks as though it’s also paved the way for more people in Italy to leave the cities and choose a safer, calmer place to carry out their work or continue studying while enjoying a break from the crowds.

In fact, the report revealed that this year, people are looking to book ‘holiday working’ breaks with extended family, beginning as early as May and June.

READ ALSO:

Receiving the most amount of bookings are destinations off the beaten track, with a reported increase in stays in isolated places, only reachable by car or ferry.

“Top performers continue to be destinations where it is possible to book houses outside historic centres but with all services within easy reach, such as Termoli in Molise, Muravera in Sardinia and Monopoli, Castellana Grotte and Lecce in Puglia,” said Celani.

Other places receiving a swell in bookings are Sirolo in the Marche, Marone on Lake Iseo, Bormiese and Valdisotto in Lombardy and Andora and Sanremo in Liguria.

Both the sea and the mountains are attractive to people in Italy taking advantage of the ability to work remotely in a destination of their choosing.

And it’s not just the summer season that’s expected to experience this new trend – as the site has also seen a hike in bookings for October, meaning ‘holiday working’ is set to continue until autumn 2021.

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VENICE

EXPLAINED: Whatever happened to Venice’s ‘tourist tax’?

Venice’s long-discussed plan to charge day-trippers for access to the city was meant to come into effect in January, but, three years after the original proposal, the project has once again fallen into administrative quicksand.

EXPLAINED: Whatever happened to Venice’s ‘tourist tax’?

For an island surrounded by shallow waters and countless shoals, it sure seems oddly fitting that Venice’s long-discussed ‘tourist tax’ system continues to be hopelessly stranded. 

First mooted in 2019, the idea to impose an entry fee on all day-trippers to regulate visitors’ inflow and supposedly solve the city’s overcrowding problems had been delayed by the second-worst flooding in Venice’s history first and by the Covid-19 pandemic after.

But all the pieces seemed to have finally fallen into place earlier this year, with Venice expected to get its much-touted tourism regulation system up and running by January 16th, 2023. 

However, in what will hardly come as a surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the project’s troubled history, the city administration has recently hit another snag and the entry-fee saga will now continue well into the new year. 

While Venice’s comune (town hall) has vaguely attributed the latest deferral to the need to “change and improve” the project, a number of longstanding issues seem to have bogged down the city’s plan once more. 

A gondola right in front of Venice's Doge Palace

Under Venice’s new tourism regulation system, day-trippers will have to pay an entry fee of three to ten euros to access the city centre. Photo by Laurent EMMANUEL / AFP

Firstly, a good deal of confusion still lingers over who exactly will be exempted from paying the entry fee (contributo d’accesso), which will range from three to ten euros based on the day and time of the year. 

While tourists staying in the city overnight, residents, second-home owners and those studying or working in Venice have long been identified as exempt categories, local authorities have never quite clarified what their plans were in relation to people living in other Veneto provinces. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How will Venice’s tourist tax affect second-home owners? 

And, according to the latest media reports, a squabble between Venice’s administration and regional authorities over the status of Veneto residents – the region is reportedly pushing for a full exemption, which Venice seems to oppose for now – may have been the main reason behind the latest stand-off. 

But a clearer definition of the plan’s exemptions isn’t the only outstanding item in the city’s to-do list, not by a long shot. 

The administration’s failure to reach an agreement with local transport operators and port authorities over the enforcement of the new rules has largely contributed to the latest delay, and so have issues related to the planned online booking platform.

In particular, the comune had pledged earlier this year that the website allowing day-trippers to book and pay for their visit to the city would be ready by the end of 2022, but, with less than a month to go until the new year, no announcement has been made on the subject so far. 

Tourist sitting in a cafè by Rialto Bridge in Venice

Due to a number of structural issues, the introduction of Venice’s entry fee system is now expected to happen over the course of next year’s summer. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

It is perhaps telling in this sense that the city’s still in the process of asking residents for comments and suggestions on the entry fee plan – the web page meant to record locals’ feedback on the project went live on Tuesday, December 6th and will remain available until January 7th.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Venice?

So, as Venice’s administration works to solve the current issues and improve the plan based on residents’ input, when could we expect to see the system in operation?

Well, any changes made to the original project will have to be first approved by the city’s council (Consiglio Comunale), after which it’ll take months – perhaps, as many as six – to get the system ready to go. 

This means that, even if the council somehow managed to approve the new plan by the end of the year, the project’s trial stages could only start next summer, with the local Feast of the Redeemer (Festa del Redentore) on July 15th potentially being the first real test bench for the whole system. 

That said, given the project’s not-so-promising history, it’d be hard for anyone to bank on it.

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