I am just back from the Romagna riviera, where I have talked with the hotel owners of Rimini and Riccione and received the impression that they are cautiously pessimistic about the outcome of the next holiday season. Italian tourists are declining, not to mention the Germans. 2004 was a boom year for tourism worldwide; several areas of the globe enjoyed an increase in business by over 20%. Europe was at the tail-end of the performance scale, and our Country in particular stood out – unfortunately – for its unfavourable situation.
As we know, immediately after World War II Italy ranked number one in the world for tourist flows, and now it has sadly slipped into the fourth position, after France, Spain and the United States.
Some people believe that the decline of fortune is due to excessive prices, and this is certainly one of the reasons, but it cannot possibly be the main one. Italy, let’s remember, is the country that has the highest number of art attractions, historic and archaeological sites; it enjoys an enviable climate and unparalleled geographic diversity; it boasts world-class cooking and – let’s say it – a nice and friendly people. So?
Probably we have not yet matured the skills to operate as a system. It may be chance, but the first place in the ranking is held by France, which has been able to publicise its proposals adequately in foreign countries through such an effective organisation as the Maison de France. In Italy, after the well-known incident of the Undersecretary with proxy to Tourism, who had to resign because of his irresponsible comments against the Germans (which, among other things, had caused Gerhard Schroeder to cancel his holiday in Italy), we are currently without any institutional leadership to the tourist sector, while Enit, responsible for promoting Italian tourism abroad, is torn by uncertainties about its own future, with some advocating a pre-eminence of regional governments in matters of tourism, and others campaigning for a better coordinated though dynamic entity. What can we say to the Romagna hotel owners? That once again they will have to roll up their sleeves and fend for themselves.
Translation of the Italian
editorial by Paola Praloran