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Tourism: a system in difficulty

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 20 Settembre 2002

The summer season is over. I went to Corvara on a sad occasion, and there one could sense that a working cycle had come to a close. Sitting in the few coffee shops that were still open, few sportsmen, especially German, were enjoying the last of the summer sun. The mountains had gone back to their off-season tranquillity. I was walking briskly to keep warm, while I conversed with a local hotel keeper who outlined a grim picture of the summer just finished. Tourist presence had been down by 10%, he told me, and even in August there had been vacancies. It was the first time it happened in so many years. Tourism in general is no doubt going through a difficult period, and the unfavourable weather conditions of the summer have accentuated the prevailing sense of malaise. Several businesses suffered direct damages; just yesterday I received an email from a hotel manager, who had seen his hotel in the Isle of Elba turn into a sea of mud, and was now forced to look for a new job, because the hotel had to close down. Stock-exchange investments, by now a mass phenomenon, have been constantly losing value, exacting the cost of too long a bullish period before, and many people have found themselves unprepared to react. Terrorism, the actual and the imagined one, fills the pages of newspapers, and TV news focus their attention on the decisions to be made in response. The figures of the economy keep on adjusting on a constant downward trend and, in line with this, six-monthly reports of companies operating in tourism often look like war bulletins. The luckiest ones have achieved results only slightly lower than the previous year, whereas the most unlucky ones have sunk in the red. In spite of this, there are shy signals of resistance, if not recovery. Tourism has no doubt become a planetary phenomenon of great vitality. Newspapers in the USA write that hotels have been affected less by the financial crisis following the 11th of September than by the crisis of the 90’s. From Germany, in spite of the problems of civil aviation, we hear the news that the T.U.I. is planning to activate a new airline company to run low-price flights. Everywhere we can find plans for new openings, restructuring, enlargements. We have the feeling that we are being faced with a process of natural selection, where problems will be overcome by the fittest, and by those who will manage to adjust to a more competitive situation. History is again repeating itself.

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