How is the tourism industry coping with Covid-19? An Italian and European perspective.

Travelling to, from, and within Europe, hasn’t been this hard or this expensive in half a century, but it may get easier towards the end of the year. None of this, of course, is good news for the tourism industry, which is now trying to work around the problem with territorial marketing campaigns targeting Countries whose borders are open and whose regulations are less restrictive of free movement as a consequence of the pandemic. Will we still get to go on holiday this year?

Shifting guidelines

Internal EU borders have been progressively opened in June, while external ones are expected to be opened this month for most countries. There are still doubts about the USA and Brazil, which so far have suffered the largest outbreaks of Coronavirus in the world. The European Commission also had to struggle to get all the countries in the Schengen area to lift mutual restrictions, amid concerns for a possible new outbreak in the fall. There is agreement on the relative safety of allowing free movement between countries with similar health situations that have managed to get the epidemic under control.

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Outdoor tourism is on the rise

Outdoor tourism seems to be the answer that will save the tourism industry this summer. All over Europe – and in Italy more than anywhere else – a wealth of offers and holiday packages are being designed for those who wish to leave the lockdown behind by enjoying as much outdoor time as possible, in places where the traces of human presence are minimal. This will be a summer of sports, relaxation, and basking in the simple pleasures we did not value enough until they were stripped away from us.

What does social distancing means for the tourism industry

When we talk about the tourism industry, we are not just talking about airlines and hotels, but also about restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, and all the companies and professionals whose livelihood depends on tourists. What will social distancing mean for them? In Italy, bars and restaurants account for 4% of the total GDP and 5% of all existing jobs. The lockdown that was in place all through March and April has already caused a loss in turnover of about € 14 billion and put over 230 thousand jobs at risk. Social distancing measures, while necessary, will also draw out the existing crisis in this field, forcing most bars and restaurants to downsize, to account for the fewer customers they will be allowed to serve at any given time. The consequences have been calculated to the tune of almost € 600 million in lost revenue, 100k bars, and restaurants on the brink of failure and 2700 more jobs that could disappear.

Signals of hope

Since Italian borders have been re-opened to all travellers from the Schengen area, growing numbers of enthusiastic tourists have been seen braving the steep airline fares and the intricacies of social distancing on the beach, just to enjoy a holiday in the country they love. Will the industry recover? We believe it will, although it will be a slow process. This could be the perfect chance to learn how to appreciate new aspects of travelling, focusing less on joining in with the big and glamorous crowds on the coast and venturing out into the wilder and less tame parts of Italy, where nature can be experienced at its most beautiful and powerful.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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