ROME, (EFE) – With the arrival of Easter, foreign tourists, almost all European, return to an Italy with a pre-pandemic atmosphere and, although this year the Russians are absent due to the sanctions against the invasion Ukrainian, their absence will overshadow but not spoil the season, it’s true “trial period” on the way to summer.
The Easter holidays in Italy have a different tone this year: while in 2021 the holiday was safe from the virus, declaring the whole country in a “red zone”, today there are practically no no restrictions in effect and until spring it seems here to stay.
As a result, the tides of tourists have returned to the “Bel Paese” and from the sector they watch the figures of arrivals and overnight stays with the desire to glimpse a summer that underpins the recovery once and for all.
As for the domestic market, 14 million Italians are expected to pack their bags at Easter – only next Monday is a public holiday – and almost all of them, 89.5% of the total, will stay in their country, generating a turnover of 7,000 million euros. , according to figures from the Federalberghi hotel federation.
While waiting to know the definitive data, its president, Bernab• Bocca, recognizes that it is “good sign” but asks “not to cry victory” because “a cloud has risen on the horizon: the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s Russia”.
Arrivederci” to the Russians
European restrictions in retaliation for the war will prevent the arrival of Russians in Italy, who to date accounted for around 1.5% of the total number of foreign visitors who pass through the Mediterranean country each year.
His absence will lead to the loss of 180,000 overnight stays, or 20 million euros until April 25, the day of Orthodox Easter, they explain to the union. “Assotourism”.
This is a stumbling block in a relationship that has only grown in recent decades, as statistics from the National Tourism Entity (ENIT) show: At the start of the historical series, 1997, 280,000 Russians arrived in Italy, while in the last virus-free year, 2019, they exceeded one million (1,043,000).
But it was at other times. Just three years ago, no one imagined or feared “lockdown” or wore a mask and Russians were spending some 984 million euros in Italian bars, restaurants, hotels or other places of leisure, a sum who will be missed again this year.
The five favorite destinations were ancient Rome, cosmopolitan Milan, the Venice of the canals, Renaissance Florence or the beaches of Rimini, but also other places as paradisiacal as they are exclusive, such as the island of Capri, especially in spring and summer.
Now Capri and nearby Ischia, a traditional destination for some ‘big Russian spenders’, have seen ‘numerous’ cancellations at their hotels, as regional governor Vincenzo De Luca recently admitted, downplaying the problem .
“The lack of Russian tourists will obviously be noticeable, especially in some places, but although they represented a significant part of our visitors, it was not the most relevant”, explains the president of Assoturismo Confesercenti, Vittorio Messina.
This year we will also not see the famous oligarchs, who have chosen the luxury of Sardinia or the Amalfi Coast for their rest and who have seen how the government of Mario Draghi seized their mansions and yachts for their collusion with Putin’s regime.
An essentially European tourism
At present, those who come to Italy to spend a few days between art, culture and gastronomy are mainly European citizens, as well as many Spaniards, so frequent in cities like Rome.
Missing, according to tour operators, are “large groups” outside the EU, such as the Chinese, Japanese or Koreans (in 2019, 2.1 million travelers arrived from Asia, leaving behind 2,857 million euros, according to ENIT data).
Carla and Marina enjoy a sunny day at the foot of Rome’s imposing Pantheon: “We wanted to visit the city for its history, but we didn’t travel until the Covid issue was eased. I see the city quite full, ”says the first.
Aurore, also Spanish, waited for Holy Week to visit the Eternal City, a destination she had dreamed of so much. “Tourism is reactivating quite a bit,” he rejoices at the microphones, a stone’s throw from a lively Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
“During this Easter period, visitors from Western Europe and especially Italians travel. What is expected is that international demand will strengthen in the face of summer, since foreigners represent the equivalent of half of summer tourists, ”underlines Messina.
Everything will depend, yes, on keeping the virus at bay, but also on other factors such as inflation or the rise in energy prices, important for the pocket of the tur/mjista, but also on the unpredictable war from Ukraine. .