Sicily is offering to subsidise accommodation for prospective visitors to restart its tourism industry. The Italian authorities expect to reopen the country’s borders later this summer and €75million of regional government money has been put aside to help entice visitors back.
Sicily’s current plans include reduced rate accommodation, such as one night of a three-night trip for free, or two nights of a six-day trip. Vouchers for cultural and heritage activities will also be available. There have been reports of that the funding might cover half price flights, but this has not been confirmed. News and updates regarding the subsidies will be published on the island’s tourism board website.
Italian tourism has been hugely damaged by the pandemic, with sector revenues falling by 95 per cent in March. Tourism accounts for around 13 per cent of Italy’s total GDP, so the country is likely to feel the dip acutely.
Back in early April, tThe Foreign and Commonwealth Office extended its global travel restrictions “indefinitely”. The FCO made the decision due to “unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice.”
In an interview with newspaper Il Messaggero, Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture and tourism minister, denied claims the country will be closed to tourists for the remainder of the year.
“I have never talked or ever thought of closing Italian borders to tourists for 2020,” he said. “I am working towards the complete opposite, and proposed yesterday at a meeting of EU tourism minsters as uniform approach to managing infection risks. We are also starting bilateral talks with other countries that send a lot of tourists to Italy.”
This week, Italian lockdown restrictions were eased for the first time since early March, including the reopening of parks, and restaurants for takeaway meals.
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