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What to do for tourism?

Di Antonio Caneva, 7 Febbraio 2013

The current Italian Minister for Tourism, Mr. Piero Gnudi, has an impressive track record as member of boards of directors and boards of auditors for large companies such as Stet, Eni, Enichem, Credito Italiano, and the Enel presidency.
He has succeeded Ms. Michela Vittoria Brambilla, who, as part of her measures as the head of ministry, had the “merit” to launch Magic Italy in Tour, of so little impact as to disappear without leaving a trace, and who is also remembered for having proposed to abolish the Palio di Siena, one of the main worldwide tourist attractions.
From a person like the present minister we expected some decisive action, but it seems fated that, in this sector, actions are much scarcer than words.
He is now leaving us with the legacy of a study commissioned to the Boston Consulting Group, a Strategic Plan for Tourism Development in Italy, which we fear will not be taken into consideration by his successor, and will pass down in history as the umpteenth academic exercise on the matter.
The Strategic Plan proposes seven guidelines: redefinition of the governance in the sector by strengthening the Tourism Minister’s role; revamping of Enit; improved quality: focus on one-two new large poles of attraction in the South or in the Islands, creation of 30-40 new attraction poles overall, with priority to the up-level and BRIC segments; upgrading of hospitality facilities and sector consolidation; transports and infrastructures: improved airport planning and intermodal connections; training and skills: upgrading of tourism education and promotion of vocational studies (from high school to postgraduate level); international investments: to be attracted by means of tax incentives and zero bureaucracy.
Hardly time enough to present the plan before it was met by an avalanche of criticism; for love of simplicity, let me recall just two of the protests raised: the former by Stefano Landi of SL&A, who, among other things, pointed to a lack of consideration for the brand notion, related to the uniqueness and identity of the Italian hospitality model, to be leveraged for competitive advantage; the choice to privilege foreign markets alone, to the detriment of the domestic market; the decision to ignore the phenomenon of new low-cost travellers, focusing only on BRIC tourists and the up-level segment of Western Europe. The second objection was from Federcongressi chairman Paolo Zona, who remarked that the 89-page document almost completely ignores conference tourism, even though figures are clear evidence of its value and potentiality. «Now we understand», commented Paolo Zona, «why the national Convention Bureau was made to end the way it did».
We are convinced that, in spite of the government to come and of the imminent summer season, the only thing we can do is once again roll up our sleeves!

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