ITALY (eTN) – At the opening of a conference, the first thought of the newly-elected Minister goes to the victims of the island of Giglio. “It’s a tragedy that was incredible for its lightness with which has put at risk the lives of people, and that concerns a mode of safer tourist transport.” The speaker, in his first hearing in the Senate, is Italy’s Minister of Regional Affairs, Tourism, and Sport Piero Gnudi.
An intervention, already on the agenda on the eve of the sinking of the Costa Concordia, which had as its sole purpose to present to Parliament the programmatic lines of his ministry, shows a blueprint for action that aims, above all, on promotion abroad.
Establish tourist districts
The first step of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s newly-formed government has a definite direction: define regions along with coordination between central and peripheral, and also determine which segments of the market to focus on, choose which products to sell, and assess how to stimulate growth of companies, such as giving impetus to the establishment and implementation of tourist districts. The minister said this directly implicates the role of the Standing Committee for coordination in the field of tourism established at the State-Regions Conference.
Gnudi said a key factor is the painful system in Italy, which lacks collaboration. “The promotional activities of our country are currently fragmented into many local initiatives that fail to produce useful synergies,” he said.
Minister Gnudi said if energies can be focused into actions, tourism can contribute 18 percent of the GDP by 2020 – 5 percent more than the current figure, employing about 1.6 million people.
The main partner for the promotion of Italy abroad remains ENIT – a structure that is, in the intentions of the Minister, “to recover a central role in the tourism system and must be consolidated as the operational arm of the state and regions.”
This statement also follows the brand’s re-launch of Italia.it . Among the objectives of the department, is “the transformation of the portal into an effective [web site], in line with best international experience.”
The online platform “should facilitate the development of various segments for which our country has a natural vocation” – cultural tourism, religion, food, and wine, but also sports, conferences, and wellness – segments that will allow a reduction of the phenomenon of seasonality.
Although the first seven months of 2011 showed an increase of 5.8 percent in arrivals and an increase of 1.8 percent in admissions, it is good for Gnudi to not focus on illusions, saying: “While the industry continues to grow, it is equally true that the Italian share market tends to decrease; in fact, [in] 10 years [arrivals] have dropped from 6.1 to 4.5 percent.”
The flaws are there, all right. Among these, “the serious lack of infrastructure, the small size of the vast majority of businesses, the inadequate level of staff training, a marked seasonality, the lack of Italian players at the international level, and the problems experienced by Alitalia.” That said, the road to recovery is long, and it needs to be recovered in a hurry.
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