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How far can tourism grow?

Di Antonio Caneva, 7 Settembre 2017

We are back to base! We had a scorching August, which had the benefit of favouring a strong recovery of tourism, to the point that provisional data place us once again ahead of France.
It’s been many years since we felt so optimistic; the companies of the tourist sector look favourably on business, in a long-term perspective, as is shown by the upturn in hiring..
Everything is well then, right? Yes and no.
Yes, as regards revenues, which allow to develop activities with a sense of security, often reconsidering investments that had been long postponed. There is nothing more stimulating than businesses renewing themselves to offer products that respond to the demand of the times. This is the correct way to do hospitality.
The tumultuous growth of tourism, however, also entails some risks. Tourism is based on territory, on location and ground, and cannot grow indefinitely. Recent media reports have shown situations that are the signals of malaise, when tourism is too much in the same place. In Barcelona (before the recent inhuman attempt), the population, tired of the rampant mass of visitors, had started sabotaging tourists’ cars, rallying in the streets with banners against excess. Mind you, we are speaking of Barcelona, the city which lived a renaissance after the increase in the number of visitors, a goal that was reached at the cost of enormous investments in terms of (good) communication.
On the other hand, the distress caused by excess – or perceived excess – is now pervasive (except complaining, later, about falls in numbers). In Venice, at certain times, San Marco turns into “numerus clausus”; even Dolomitic passes are put a quota on: the Sella Pass, in summer, is closed on Wednesdays to non-electric vehicles – and we are talking about an area that has thrived on tourism. This region can now allow itself to place on display the living of a few decades ago, when the economy was almost exclusively based on farming, and life was hard. Now, those moments are displayed in photo shows as “moments of the heart”: interesting for sure, but light-years away from the current well-being that originated from tourism.
What to do then? It is a complex question which will need to be answered shortly, if we are to avoid the ever-present threat of populism which might take foot and condition the healthy growth of a phenomenon that has a positive impact on us all and the economy of the country.

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