Every Summer Has Its Story: Italian Holidays In 2020

Despite Covid-19 significantly affected the sector of tourism, summer holidays won't be cancelled from the calendar. Rethinking the meaning of summertime will therefore be essential.

Holidays in Italy 2020

Despite Covid-19 significantly affected the sector of tourism, summer holidays won’t be cancelled from the calendar. Rethinking the meaning of summertime will therefore be essential.

Summertime is the moment when days seem to last forever. In Italy, summer months are associated with relaxing time at the beach, trekking excursions in the Alps, and the national heritage sites teem with tourists.

In fact, Italy has a worldwide reputation as favorite holiday destination, both for Italians and foreigners. From North to South there are plenty of choices, from historical sites and villages in the countryside, to almost 5000 museums disseminated on the national territory. As a consequence of the great touristic potential, tourism is an essential element for the Italian economy. For example, data from the National Agency for Tourism shows how in 2018 tourism was about 13.2% of the GDP, corresponding to an amount of  €232.2 billion and with growing expectations for the following years.

However, despite all positive forecasts for the year, 2020 won’t be remembered for an increased flow of tourists towards the Italian peninsula. Instead, the new Covid-19 conditions have significantly affected the sector of tourism and, for some, summer holidays are a remote illusion.

The first hit to this market arrived with the enactment of the law decree of March 25 which limited people’s movements allowing only essential travels. This lockdown measure cancelled all the hopes to enjoy the upcoming weekends and holidays everywhere in the national territory. As a consequence, both the national tourism sector and the hotel industry have registered sharp drops with greatly negative effects on the whole economy. According to the national agency of tour operators (Astoi Confindustria Viaggi), the number of reservations for the incoming summer drastically decreased, with an estimated €600-700 millions of losses.

This summer, as a result of other countries’ lockdown strategies, the presence of non-Italian tourists will be heavily reduced and most likely will result in a reduction of about €200 billion compared to 2019 levels. Nevertheless, it must be clear that permitting a progressive relaxation of the lockdown measures to fight Covid-19 and getting back to free travel, is necessary to register a low R0 factor. This indicates how contagious an infectious disease is and tells how many people on average will be infected as a result of one person testing positive. In this regard, we are moving in the right direction to reduce it and reach a value close to zero registering a national average of 0.8.

Despite this, each Italian region has recorded different results and, consequently, the discussion about loosening the lockdown measures still raises some doubts. Prime Minister Conte partially clarified the concerns regarding travels and summer holidays during an interview with the Corriere della Sera, on May 10.

As a matter of fact, he announced how Italians will have the chance to go on holiday and enjoy in full the beauty of the country. Supporting this line of thought providing for a progressive alleviation of the restrictions from May 18, the Council of Ministers discussed and approved a law decree in the night of May 14. Together with other important matters, in this text emerges how the newly established key date to permit unrestricted movements and travels is June 3 and, until then, interregional travels are still not allowed.

Therefore, the only question now is, what to expect from this exceptional summer? The national spokepersons of the touristic sector share the view that it will mainly be an Italian summer, aiming at rediscovering local treasures while adjusting to live with health restrictions. Tourists, unfortunately, will have to continue to respect social distancing and take precautional protective measures to reduce at the minimum the risk of a possible spread of the virus.

In terms of travel arrangements, the statement of the Undersecretary of State to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBAC), L. Bonaccorsi, is also backed by the CEO of Boscolo Viaggi, a major Italian tour operator: this summer will be mostly characterised by short-distance trips, looking for safe, secluded and more intimate destinations.

We will need to think about the circumstances as an occasion to rediscover local and regional treasures and artistic sites, thus limiting as much as possible the prospect of long-distance travels. A case supporting the intention of promoting a more local form of tourism is the hashtag #IoRestoInItalia (#IStayInItaly). Launched during the quarantine, it went viral on social networks, giving a great signal to and encouraging the tourism industry. It is an example that reflects the interest and the commitment of many Italians to spend their next holidays in their home country, in this way having a role in the recovery of the national economy overall.

Despite the growing frenzy, the key date remains June 3 and it will mark the beginning of a crucial time for the government and Italy. From May 18 until June 3, the whole country will be under scrutiny and constant evaluation by the relevant authorities, with the objective of authorizing the unlock of the country in complete safety. It is impossible to predict how the situation will evolve, but the forecasts are positive, and we will all need to temporarily adapt to the new normal.

Rethinking the meaning of summertime will be essential and other formats will be prioritized, but summer holidays won’t be cancelled from the calendar.

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