Wednesday, 05 May 2021 03:52

Italy, G20 look to return of tourism


Italy is ready to welcome back travellers, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Tuesday (4 May) after hosting a G20 meeting that put tourism at the heart of the global post-pandemic recovery.

“It’s time for you to book your holidays in Italy!” Draghi told reporters, promising to provide “clear and simple rules” to ensure visitors could travel around safely.

“The world longs to travel here. The pandemic has forced us to close down temporarily. But Italy is ready to welcome back the world.”

Italy has suffered badly from the pandemic, both in terms of the death toll — the highest in the EU at more than 120,000 — and the recession sparked by coronavirus restrictions.

Home to Venice and Florence, Portofino and Capri, Italy had been the world’s fifth-most visited destination, but visitor numbers collapsed by more than 60% from 2019 to 2020.

Draghi noted the European Union is hoping to have its “green” pass up and running from the second half of June, which would allow easier entry for tourists who have been vaccinated, tested negative or can show immunity.

First, he said, in mid-May, Italy hopes to make operational its own national green pass, allowing travel within the country.

But it was not clear whether this would allow international visitors to enter Italy more easily. Arrivals from most countries are currently restricted.

Under rules in place until 15 May, for example, tourists from the rest of Europe must self-isolate for five days upon arrival in Italy.

Draghi was speaking after an Italy-hosted virtual meeting of tourism ministers from the Group of 20 most powerful nations.

In a joint statement, they noted tourism was still one of the sectors hardest hit by Covid-19, after countries around the world grounded flights and told citizens to stay at home.

“With nearly 62 million travel and tourism jobs lost globally, representing a drop of 18.5 percent, the outlook remains highly uncertain,” they said.

The statement added: “We emphasize that the resumption of travel and tourism is crucial for global economic recovery because of the direct and indirect economic impact this sector has on others.”

But they said the crisis was also an “opportunity to rethink tourism for the future”, with Draghi noting the importance of protecting the environment and local communities.