Sicily has Bold Plans to Reignite Tourism

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The city of Messina in Sicily. Photo by Terry Ott.
The city of Messina in Sicily. Photo by Terry Ott.

Sicily has a Game plan for Tourism After the Pandemic

By Matt Martella

By being one of the hardest-hit countries in the entire world by COVID-19, Italy, which normally benefits greatly from tourism every year, has a lot of work ahead of it to revitalize a crucial component of its economy.

Sicily has Bold Plans to Reignite Tourism 2

The regional government of Sicily has already proposed bold plans to help kickstart tourism in the area which will surely entice foreign and domestic travelers alike as they plan their post-COVID travels.

What is the plan?

Viewpoint at Favignana. Sicily. Tommy Hansen photo.
Viewpoint at Favignana. Sicily. Tommy Hansen photo.

To attract tourists, Sicily’s tourism department is offering to subsidize visitors’ accommodation costs, offering one night of a three-night trip for free, or two nights of a six-day trip, as well as vouchers for cultural and heritage

activities. Additionally, the Sicilian government has said it will pay for half the flights’ costs and provide free tickets to many of the island’s museums and archeological sites.

If you interested in getting a voucher for yourself, go to the Visit Sicily website one the country reopens its borders.

They also plan on investing in environmentally friendly tourism for the future. This includes providing some of the smaller islands of Sicily with modes of public transportation.

A Huge Financial Investment

A financial pot of 75 million euros ($81,339,000.00 USD) of regional government money was dedicated to the effort of supporting tourism in the region following a major financial loss as a result of the lockdown which came into effect on March 10th. Although this has not been confirmed, there are reports that these funds will be used to pay for half of the costs of flights for tourists coming into Sicily.

The entire country of Italy has suffered huge financial losses since the lockdown was enforced on March 1oth. Tourism revenue fell 95% in March, and the national tourism is predicting a 20 billion euro ($21,680,400,000.00 USD) drop in tourist spending for this year compared with last.

Sicily alone has lost 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion USD) in tourism-related revenue. The proposed plan to reignite tourism will cost the island an additional 50 million euros, but the government is optimistic that the risk will be worth the reward once tourists are allowed to come back.

When will tourism open-up again in Sicily?

A mountain in Sicily. Photo by darkeyed.
A mountain in Sicily. Photo by darkeyed.

At the moment, Italy is eagerly planning to open up its borders and welcome tourists into the country. Italy is currently in phase 2 of its lockdown, which includes easing some restrictions like reopening parks and allowing restaurants to serve takeout meals.

By May 18th, the Italian government is hoping to start reopening shops and other public venues while still operating under social distancing rules.

Putting an end to what he called “fake news” reports that Italy may be closed to tourists for the rest of 2020, Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture and tourism minister, told newspaper Il Messaggero: “I have never talked or ever thought of closing Italian borders to tourists for 2020. I am working towards the complete opposite and proposed yesterday at a meeting of EU tourism ministers a uniform approach to managing infection risks. We are also starting bilateral talks with other countries that send a lot of tourists to Italy.”

Although tourism in Italy will hopefully open sometime in 2020, Franceschini is still expecting a major loss in tourism revenue that would have come during the summer, “I imagine, unfortunately, that international tourism

Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture and tourism minister. Photo courtest of the Chamber of Deputies.
Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture and tourism minister. Photo courtesy of the Chamber of Deputies.

will drop sharply this summer – both incoming and outgoing. So we are making a strong investment in domestic tourism because this will be a summer holiday in Italy.

“You have to adopt the right balance between safeguarding the health and restarting economic and social life. It must be done with the utmost care. We’re moving one step at a time.”

The Current State of Sicily

Sicily, as the whole of Italy, is classified a protected area. Currently, there is a lower diffusion of contagion than in the rest of Italy and Local health authorities are monitoring the situation closely.

Park and public gardens are open to the public as long as social distancing rules are followed. All tourism attractions and tourism sites are operating according to Covid-19 regulations.