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Hospitality: what should be sent to the scrap yard?

Di Antonio Caneva, 8 Novembre 2012

I always worry when the institutions take notice of tourism: they often generate monsters, as we have been taught by recent events. Suffice it to think of the law derogation regarding hotels for the world championship 1990, or the reintroduction of the Ministry of Tourism, entrusted to Michela Brambilla, with Enit’s Chairmanship assigned to Matteo Marzotto, these days admitted to the honours of the press for quite different reasons.
Let’s not forget the tourist tax, regarded as a special-purpose contribution, whose spoils are being circled over by hawks awaiting an allocation of the revenue. At a recent conference, it was suggested that Milan utilise the proceeds for the Cathedral’s maintenance, on grounds that tourists come to Milan also to see the Cathedral. Why, then, not assign the money to Amsa ( the Milan Company for Environmental Services); by keeping the city clean, they, too, contribute to tourism! It gives the shudders.
Now, the current minister Piero Gnudi, based on a voluminous expertise provided by Boston Consulting at the cost of 35,000 euros, which he defined as “almost free of charge” (why did they do it, without a gain?), points out that 34,000 hotels are too many, many of them are too old and too small, and he suggests that they be scrapped.
On several issues, there are often proposals whose purposes meet with some amount of consensus, but at the time of the final approval they are completely twisted, and this, too, is a risk.
For example, many hotels in high-value areas are the coveted targets of real-estate investors, who ask for nothing better than to transform charming historic buildings into luxury condominiums, causing the area to lose its identity.
I agree with the statement made by the Chairman of Assoturismo Confesercenti, Claudio Albonetti: “/…….. ./ It is better to think in terms of quality, not size. Speaking of quality, the minister is preaching to the converted, but the idea to scrap hotels on criteria of size rather than quality leaves us astounded. We believe this should be not the Government’s choice, but the market’s. Also, we feel it is important to emphasise the fundamental value of the small-hotel network, which responds to the Italian tourist vocation, extending to the entire national territory, and can address all types of tourism, not only the élite. We cannot build giant facilities in every corner of Italy: it would be uneconomical, and a serious damage to our beautiful Country. If the aim is to renew the Italian hotel network, the State should rather help us to find the necessary resources, which – in this period of crisis – certainly cannot be provided by businesses alone. This would be a measure we could not but applaud”.
We have posted a question on our FaceBook page (we enjoy the attention of 25,931 friends) concerning a possible “scrapping” of hotels, and among various comments I found the one by Enrico Z. to be interesting and vaguely romantic: I wish to share it with our readers: “This would mean killing small family-run businesses, favouring the large hotel groups, and no doubt giving rise to a number of real-estate speculations. It may even mean depriving some territories of their receptive capacity, however limited (I am thinking of small alpine and appennine valleys where you find one/two small hotels with a dozen beds each). It is ok to renew/modernise some facilities, but not in an absolute way; there are small establishments with a long history behind them (they may have been running for 5-6 generations, for more than a century). In such cases, the “ancient” look may be precisely the strength of a facility. And it reflects a cultural bond with its locality”.

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