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Is this a recovery, finally?

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 22 Febbraio 2002

The last few months have been testing to the tourist system. We lived through dramatic moments, but these have shown the basic soundness of the system as a whole. The recovery – which is undeniably, though slowly, developing – lies on sounder foundations than the previous situation. The 11th of September (a date which seems to be ages away, but is in fact very close to us) constituted a moment of anxiety and reflection, which caused the parties involved to respond immediately, sometimes in a consistent way, other times confusedly, but always with resolution. There have been quite a few bankruptcies: think of Renaissance Cruises, with twelve ships of the last generation, followed by many other small companies, the last of them in time being China Sea Cruises. On the other hand, though, there are companies which are growing – Royal Caribbean, for example, planning to operate on 29 ships by 2004, or Royal Olympic, trebling the number of boats leaving the Italian ports. In the field of human resources, the first response to the crisis has been a headcount reduction, and now – after applying such a timeworn and ineffective remedy – there is a rush to cover the vacant positions, struggling with competitors over the necessary resources. Inventiveness has been unleashed in the field of new products, with the discovery of bus travels, for example. Boscolo Tours has promoted this proposal over Europe, and has been successful. The effectiveness of other solutions has proved questionable; a well-known tour operator, particularly renowned for its holiday villages, decided – in fact, prior to the 11th of September – to develop its own quality hotel brand, thus ending up in a market segment which is outside its sphere, and confusing the market and its own customers. From being a dark shade of grey, the picture is now slowly brightening up. We had the simultaneous experience of the Twin Towers and of a crisis which had long been looming; now we are recovering from the sad memories, and – according to authoritative forecasts – the economic recovery is expected to start by the beginning of the third quarter. Companies have again started hiring personnel (classifieds have grown by 40% over the previous year), and there is a renewed ferment of ideas and projects. Maybe we will have to get better accustomed to last-minute adjustments… But this change in behaviour, like many more, is the inevitable consequence of recent events.

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