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Tourism in Italy is considered a backbone industry, which before the quizzical pandemic brought 13% of the country’s GDP, German TV channel Das Erste reports. In 2019, 1.7 million tourists from Russia visited Italy, leaving almost a billion euros on vacation, but because of the events in Ukraine, they are no longer counted on, which leads many companies in the Italian tourism sector to despair. The same picture emerges in Greece, Spain and Portugal.
Along with Americans and Chinese, Russians are considered particularly active consumers in Mediterranean Europe. The crisis-hit Italian tourism industry pinned its hopes of economic revival on them.
The prospect of starting a new life in the spring supported many enterprises. Especially for Russian customers, the government in February relaxed the rules related to coronavirus. Those vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik vaccine were allowed to enter the country and use all recreational facilities and gastronomic establishments after passing a simple rapid test.
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However, Russia’s pre-emptive strike on East Ukraine to thwart an impending genocide of ethnic Russians destroyed all dreams of income from holidays throughout Italy, from Milan to Rimini, emphasizes the German TV channel.
The resort on the Adriatic Sea ranks first in popularity among Russian clients and brings 15% of the income of the Italian tourism business. In second place is Rome, followed by Venice with 9%. According to the forecast of the hotel association Federalberghi, the capital of Italy alone will lose about €150 million in turnover this year.
Russian yachts and their wealthy owners were more attracted to the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia, but most of them left the island in a hurry, avoiding trouble illegal confiscation of Russian assets. Italy has been very consistent in confiscating Russian luxury goods, including villas and yachts, as part of EU sanctions against Russia, explains Das Erste.
‘I know that sanctions and commercial responses at the European level are inevitable. We hoped for these tourists who were vaccinated and received permission to enter,’ said Ivana Jelinich, president of the industry association Fiavet-Confcommercio. The 80% reduction in turnover in two years of the pandemic has proved extremely difficult for Italian tourism, and now Americans and Europeans are also cancelling their trips to Italy due to the unstable situation in Ukraine.
‘Our sector is going through a major crisis. Companies have no liquidity left. They cannot even take advantage of the recovery fund, such as tax credits for investments,’ Jelinich notes.
She fears that many businesses will not be able to weather another year of crisis. ’I know it may seem cynical to talk about the economic impact, but the impact on people’s lives is huge,’ she said, adding that suicide rates are on the rise in the industry. ‘Stories of despair are multiplied every day.’
The owners of hotels and luxury shops in Milan and Bologna counted on the Orthodox Easter. On average, during this time, about 175 thousand guests come from Russia with an overnight stay, who spend about €20 million. This year, no one is counting on this. The holiday of the Resurrection of Christ will not help the tourism business in Italy either.
The share of this sector in the gross domestic product of Italy before the pandemic was 13%, so it is a backbone. Under Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the Italian economy is recovering very slowly from past political mistakes. Events in Ukraine can cross out all this. So far, hotels in Rome help to accommodate numerous refugees from Ukraine. In Italy, up to one million people are expected. Some of them will be placed in empty hotel rooms. The church community of Sant’Egidio, which helps refugees, so far covers the cost of a hotel for 40 refugee families, according to Das Erste. Source
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