While the Italian economy, very dependent on tourism, suffers, the Italian government announced the opening of borders to nationals of the European Union.
Deckchairs and parasols at a distance, systematic disinfection … Italy is doing everything to be able to welcome holidaymakers on its beaches this summer , which represent a significant windfall for its economy on the verge of suffocation.
This Saturday, May 16, 2020, the Italian government announced the opening of borders, without quarantine, to nationals of the European Union from June 3.
“Question of life and death for the economy”
“In Veneto, the most touristic region of Italy with 18 billion euros of turnover, including 9 (billion) with the beaches (…), talking about the beach is a matter of life and death for the economy “, warned this week Luca Zaia, president of this region of the northeast of the country which includes Venice.
Well aware of the importance of the tourist sector which represents 13% of the GDP, the government this week set out a series of rules to avoid contagions: distance of at least 4.5 meters between parasols, disinfection of all common areas such as showers and bars, hydroalcoholic gel dispensers in transit areas, separate entrances and exits…
In Cesenatico (northeast), the birthplace of cyclist Marco Pantani, all the bathing establishments that stretch along the coast are closed despite the shining sun, and only 3 hotels out of 310 are open.
But behind the lowered curtains, all are moving to restart as quickly as possible.
30% fewer parasols
“Normally, I should have opened in early March,” said Simone Battistoni, whose family has managed the Bagno Milano bathing establishment since 1927.
With his colleague Guido Gargiulo, a 37-year-old ex-footballer converted in this sector, they are testing the installation of parasols and deckchairs while respecting the safety distances.
“Guido, do you know how nice it is to see all these umbrellas?” “, Smiles Simone, a jovial man in Lacoste polo shirt and branded thongs. Both come to the same conclusion: the new rules will force them to reduce their number of parasols by at least 30%, thereby reducing their turnover.
City of Fellini
While he usually employs 120 people during the season, he believes he will only be able to take 70 this year. A painful decision for this fifties.
“This situation is terrible,” laments Fiorenzo Presepi, owner of the La Dolce Vita hotel: “Normally I had to be full from Sunday. The Giro d’Italia was stopping here and the Germans had been booking for a year and were staying at least a week. ”
Same situation in Rimini, immortalized by Federico Fellini in “Amarcord”, where the shutters of the Grand Hotel remain desperately closed. The beaches are empty, only a few surfers take the opportunity to go and attack the waves. “Here everything revolves around tourism,” says Marco Vannucci, a 62-year-old graphic designer in a black jumpsuit and camouflage shorts, standing next to his board.
The Adriatic coast and its tens of kilometres of the beach may not be the most beautiful in Italy, but over the decades, they have become an unmissable destination thanks to an efficient network of hotels, restaurants and establishments. seaside resorts offering summer visitors easy access to a whole range of activities.
In Jesolo, east of Venice, dozens of hotels are lined up along the beach, Miami Beach style.
Here, we are using technology to keep the virus at bay: parasols that open with remote control toilets that self-disinfect after each pass, electronic bracelet, etc.
“In recent weeks, we have been working on a new concept for our beaches (…) with special precautions in terms of disinfection, not only toilets and other common areas but also beach equipment”, like the deckchairs, lists Alessandro Berton, president of the Unionmare Veneto professional union, in an interview with AFP.
In addition, “we have increased and strengthened our online booking tools, to prevent people from gathering at the entrance to bathing establishments,” said the businessman, who was torn between two puffs of a cigar.
Also in full preparations, Christofer De Zotti, director of the Mondial hotel, remains worried about the future of his season: “The real turning point will be the opening of borders because, for people like us who work for 60% with foreign customers, it is important to know when they can take a vacation in Italy ”.