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As countries around the world are slowly opening up, tourism industries are gearing themselves for a summer like no other. In Italy, beaches are considering several ideas as they plan to reopen for visitors. By Upasana Singh

One of Europe’s worst-hit countries, Italy is planning to reopen its beaches for tourists soon after dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. As the country is steadily emerging out from a strict lockdown that was imposed to contain the spread of the pandemic, it is weighing in various options and changes that will be implemented before the peak summer season.

 

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As reported by Reuters, Claudio Ambrogetti has been running Taormina’s II Delfino beach for the past 15 years. He said, “This has been a difficult period for our city, but the beach establishments are ready to reopen as soon as we have the guidelines.” At present, proposals such as spaced out umbrellas, readily availability of hand sanitisers, electronic tagging, and booking systems for beachgoers are being contemplated. To create safe spaces, a company has offered to build plexiglass booths for further protection.

Like Ambrogetti, many beach managers are hoping for a set of health protocols and distancing rules before they start operating. Danilo Piraccini, who runs the Bagno Milano beach in Milano Marittima with his sister stated that the business will undergo several changes. Instead of shaking hands and hugging people, a little wave and smiling eyes over a mask will now be the new norm.

For small family beach businesses, implementing changes could be difficult as the process and measures are likely to be expensive. With a coastline of about 8,000 km, Italy is home to over 11,000 beach businesses. This accounts for 37 per cent of tourist revenue—a share much higher than southern Italy and islands like Sicily and Sardegna.

 

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Tourism in the post-COVID-19 world will have to overcome such challenges to survive. According to Italy’s National Tourism Agency ENIT, it would approximately take three years for the industry to return to 2019 levels. However, in light of the current situation, initiatives such as encouraging citizens to spend their summer appreciating world-class destinations of their own country, are being planned. As per the Italian government, incentives will be designed to motivate people to look more locally whilst planning their holiday.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte recently announced that Italy is taking a calculated risk to ease its Coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The government has signed a decree to allow travel to and from the country from June 3.

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