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Milan, Expo 2015 and tourism

On the first of May, in Milan, we experienced contrasting feelings. Anger at the vandalic acts and damages inflicted to the city, plus a mixture of emotions about expo’s opening day.
Yet on the day after, in the city centre, there was a splendid atmosphere. A long line of people were waiting for their turn to visit the Duomo rooftop terraces, and further ahead, at the Expo gate, more people were lining up to buy the tickets for the event; inside the Sforza Castle, the Pietà Rondanini, Michelangelo’s masterpiece, could be admired in its new location.
Well, this should be the rule in a city like Milan. Those who work in tourism are aware that this city is mainly a destination of business tourism, even though the leisure segment has been growing in the last few years.
If I am to think of a legacy from Expo 2015 to the city of Milan, I hope that leisure tourism will finally and forever find a place, thriving quite independently of large events like the Design Week.
But such a legacy cannot just be handed down from the top, it has to be earned through the operators’ work and our participation as Milanese citizens.
On the one hand, I hope that operators will not leverage revenue management to apply such prices as to drive tourists out of town; on the other hand, I hope the city will feel part of a “mass hospitality system” .
Walking around town, a couple of weeks before Expo’s opening, I hopped over to the new city dock. The project had been discussed and criticised throughout its preparation. I liked it. I found it was seamlessly blending into its Old Milan context, and above all it gave me positive sensations. I almost had the feeling I was in a sea town.
While I was standing by a bridge, intent on watching the water, I came across two people who had worked at the project. We chatted about the criticisms raised and the work done. My final sentence was: “Shame that it will not be one hundred per cent ready before Expo starts, for tourists.” The answer I received: “What do we care about tourists, we are doing this for us who live here”.
I don’t mean to blame the two people who worked at the dock if they did not understand how important tourism is, even for them.
Maybe it is also up to us, who operate in this field , to promote this kind of culture. Because, if we make people truly understand what hospitality means, we will lay the foundations for a tourist destination.

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