Paradise In 2020: Not Lost, But Postponed And Restricted

Italy’s touristic paradises are open for business, albeit with new restrictions and many activities postponed to the 2021 summer season.

Italy’s touristic paradises are open for business, albeit with new restrictions and many activities postponed to the 2021 summer season.

From Colorado to Cagliari

Sardinia has most recently made international news for denying entry on July 2, 2020 to passengers on a private jet traveling from Colorado to Cagliari, due to the EU ban on US travelers renewed on July 1. The media attention given to the event was a distasteful turn for Sardinia’s PR case for tourism this season.

Despite local efforts to allow the group in, Sardinian governor Christian Solinas acknowledged that the strict interpretation of the travel restrictions on the national and international scale was necessary, though not without inflicting “grave damage to the international touristic credibility of our island and our sense of hospitality.”

Sardinia is one of the four regions in Italy that require travelers of any nationality to declare additional information as to their arrival, departure, and health status upon crossing the border. On paper, it is an effort to keep regions with very low infection rates safe during the Covid-19 pandemic; in practice, while temperatures are taken before and after the overnight trip from the mainland, the required documentation may be more of a just-in-case formality.

Paradises in Sardinia

Paradises in 2020: the numbers

In parallel to continued preparations for safety in travel measures and ongoing public health considerations in establishments, Sardinia’s tourist sector is undeniably hurting. L’Unione Sarda reports that most of the island’s tourist sector considers 2020 to be lost, and are setting their sights on 2021 — a small number of hotels even decided to remain completely closed until next year. After a non-existent tourist season in June, this month has seen about 85% of businesses open, with demand 20-25% of July 2019 numbers. Come August, when much of the Italian workforce may still retain the annual Italian summer holiday, business may pick up a bit more, with optimistic estimates increasing to 35% of last year’s demand for the same month.

Paradises in Sardinia

As the celebrated host to a fair number of the world’s most beautiful beaches, taking a forced breath from overcrowding may be one positive outcome for both the landscape and the locals. World-class beaches such as La Pelosa in the northwest part of the island, have already rolled out a series of restrictions over past years — smoking, beach towels, and bags are forbidden in order to mitigate the theft of sand and shells, a crime that can levy fines of up to 3,000. This summer season, between July and September, La Pelosa is limiting daily access to 1,500 people with a fee of 3.50 to cover maintenance of the area.

Reservation for two for paradise, please

Booking a beach has in fact been extended for the first time to a number of normally heavily-touristed paradises throughout the island. The app Heart of Sardinia opens spots to would-be beachgoers 72 hours before your intended visit. Cala Goloritzé in the middle of the island’s east coast, named by Forbes as one of the 27 most beautiful beaches in the world, is accessible by land only through a moderately-challenging hiking path, or by renting a boat. Controlled by the app, Cala Goloritzé will accommodate 250 people per day through booking in advance, and your reservation is confirmed at the entrance to the hiking path. Last year without the usage of the app, the entrance to the hiking trail allowed for 100 more visitors.

Paradises in Sardinia

Perhaps, in one of those unprofitable musings over what-would-be in a world without Covid-19, booking rugged, naturally pristine beach paradises for a day’s entrance would have only been a matter of time. Shifting the direction of tourism from the Instagram-saturated photo ops to much more spread out, social-distancing friendly, modest paradises (and paradises nonetheless!) is a built-in capacity of such a vast, sparsely populated island. It stands to be seen if limiting the capacity of Sardinia’s wonders may be just the beginning of a policy across the island to protect the environment, and to protect us from ourselves.

Beach in Sardinia

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