Last weekend I went to the TTG Incontri in Riva del Garda, in the Trentino region, and as I was approaching the town I could sense the amount of movement inside the fair from the unusual intensity of the traffic on the road. I visited the stands and stopped at the one from the U.S.A., where I finally sat down to chat a little about the current situation in tourism, with particular reference to tourism into the United States. The final remark from the stand director was: “There has been some recovery in tourism; we hope it will continue, and that no more events will happen like that of September 11. It would be a disaster!”. Time to get home and switch on the TV, I was hit by the news of the terror attack in Bali, which has reopened a wound that cannot heal. Bali is a tourist paradise which, unlike the other 1300 islands of Indonesia, mostly follows the Hindu rather than the Islamic religion, and has so far been untouched by religious tensions. Tourism is the main activity of the island as well as one of the major income sources for the entire country, and the repercussions will certainly be painful. Already the day after the attack, Italian tourists were discouraged from travelling to that destination. Such is the official recommendation, which will certainly be accompanied by personal considerations advising against travelling long distance. A few days ago I spoke to an important hotel owner of the Sorrento coast, who mentioned the good performance of his establishment this year (an exception in the Italian tourist landscape), and said his customer mix had changed: Americans and Japanese were much less in number, having been replaced by Italians and North Europeans. As in the case described, international tensions will probably redesign the map of tourism, changing the recent trend towards far-away destinations, which has lately been favoured by low-cost air fares. For us Italians, living and operating in a European area where the income is high and distances are relatively limited, this further trauma will likely have a less negative impact than for other areas. In fact, it may favour domestic destinations and periods of the year which are otherwise neglected.
A smaller and smaller world
Di Job in Tourism, 25 Ottobre 2002
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