As European countries await the arrival of a vaccine to put a brake on the spreading of the virus, the figures of the economies of the Eurozone do not show signs of recovery. While the talks in Brussels go on about the recovery fund, Italy the third-largest economy of the old continent from tomorrow will loosen up the restriction on movements of people in seven more regions. The negative trend of numbers of infected produced by the soft lockdown of the last fifteen-days leaves some hope for millions of students to go back to their classrooms while restaurants in regions coded as yellow can reopened until 6 p.m. On the other hand, the curfew stays on, and within ten p.m. Italians have lock themself at home, renouncing any form of nightlife. What is causing a massive row in the Italian parliament is the debate of whatever or not to reopen the winter resort for the skiing season. The opposition parties among which Matteo Salvini of the right party Lega Nord supported by the confederation of Italian Commerce and tourism are pushing for an immediate opening of the skiing resort that is a viable source of income for a total of one million workers and entrepreneurs. Italy’s economy relies heavily on the tourism industry. In 2019, the revenues of Tourism accounted for 13% of the total GDP. After a disastrous summer in terms of numbers of people visiting Italy, millions of businesses were looking forward to the start of the winter skiing season as a meaning to revitalize the whole compartment and instill hope and positivity. Among the most affected regions of Italy touched by the lack of holidaymakers, in 2020 there is the Island of Sicily. We talked to Ivano Lupini owner of Sicily Active a Tour operator specialized in active holidays and food experience that work on the east coast of the Island, between Mount Etna and the Alcantara Valley. We reached him over the phone to get a first-hand account with an insight view on how the Sicilian Travel industry has been overwhelmed by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Hi Ivano, Tell us about Sicily Active, and the impact that Covid-19 had on the company in terms of revenues?
“Our Company Sicily Active makes most of the earnings from the incoming of holidaymakers from the USA, and northern Europe, we have suffered a loss in revenues up to eighty percent compared to 2019. Our main activities such as Body Rafting at the Alcantara Gorge and walking tours on Mount Etna went deserted, as indeed the Wine tasting tours one of our bestsellers especially with northern Americans, experienced a total halt. The domestic market helped us to survive with a peak in presences in August, but Italians are not very fond of active holidays they instead go for a Boat tour. As the readers can figure out, we cannot expect to make a living working just thirty days per year.
The decision took by the government of postponing the opening of the ski lifts in January what sort of impact is going to have on the Sicilian tourism industry?
Well, you see, to open a ski lift it takes time, is not something we do it overnight. A series of documents certifying compliance with health safety protocols must be obtained from the authorities and, it takes time and costs money. If we are not sure that we are going to open will skip spending money on bureaucracy. The seasonal workers need to know in time that they are going to work, most of them arrive from other parts of the Island. If the government does not allow us to open within the next ten days, the winter skiing season, 2020 will never start. For us, it would be economically speaking unsustainable; it will be a disaster. Remember, Sicily relies massively on the revenue of the tourism industry. We do not have a diversified economy like the northern regions of Italy, and our unemployment rates are among one of the highest of the whole of the Eurozone.