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Bathing establishments without direction

Di Antonio Caneva, 27 Luglio 2012

In Spotorno I regularly go to a well-managed bathing establishment: kind people with pleasant customers who come back year after year; on the one side, a play area for children, on the other side, a section for more mature customers; two sun loungers for each parasol, a few spacious beach huts, a coffee bar where, with coffee, they offer you a home-baked biscuit, and this year – top of excitement – even a table-tennis table, not a luxury professional table: in fact, little more than a plywood top, but enough to enjoy a play break, and in tune with the place. Also the lifeguards are nice; the lifeguard this year is black, particularly sociable, and friendly to everyone. In essence, it is a place where you feel good, and when the autumn comes you look forward to the next summer, when you will come back.
In such a peaceful place, a poster affixed to the notice board made me curious: tonight everybody is invited to the torchlight procession, against the auction. And I had the meaning of the notice explained to me.
The current legislation on beach leaseholds freezes the situation of these state-owned areas until 2015, after which, due to a European act, the Bolkestein directive, the lease will be determined by an auction in which everybody will be able to participate, without any first-refusal right for the current leaseholders.
As regards the duration of the beach leaseholds, during the last few years we have witnessed a sequence of contrasting policies, even envisaging, at one point under the Berlusconi government, that the contracts should last ninety years (why not just give the coasts away?).
We have to consider, however, that in order to satisfy their customers (thereby performing an essential function for tourism) bathing establishments are in constant need of improvements, that is, investments; with what spirit would the current managers make such an effort, without any guarantee of continuity?
One of the hypotheses, if it is inescapable to comply with the Bolkenstain directive, is that the investments made by the current leaseholder during the years can be regarded as amounts already paid towards the auction bid, thus implicitly favouring them.

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