The Fikambanan'ny fizahan-tany eropeana (ETOA) is calling for an urgent response from local and national governments in Italy to assist cultural tourism. Cultural tourism is at the heart of Europe’s visitor offer and its economy, and it is under unprecedented strain as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19.
There are two areas over which national and local governments have complete discretion where immediate relief could be provided.
Public museums and attractions. Operators who have pre-paid for tickets at public museums and attractions are suffering a serious financial loss at a time of year when cash flow is perilous. Attractions must be allowed and encouraged to offer refunds and credit notes. Continued delay is putting jobs at risk. Where demand still exists and museums stay open, the system should recycle canceled bookings more efficiently. As an example: Coop Culture needs permission from MiBACT to vary their contract terms for Colosseo tickets. Meanwhile, the business impact on those with unused pre-paid inventory is dramatic. Government intervention is necessary.
City access for private coaching. There should be an immediate suspension of city access charges for private coaches bringing visitors to European destinations, e.g. ZTLs in Italy. Demand has all but vanished. Public transport is seen as higher-risk in terms of public health, meanwhile low-emission private coach capacity is lying idle. A business trying to continue operations within government guidance need all possible support.
Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA said: “The tourism industry is one of Europe’s best job generators; quick to add employment to the economy after a crisis. Cultural attractions and their host cities depend on visitor revenues and need to work with their industry partners to plan for recovery. Operators are facing unprecedented short-term financial harm: it is essential that we ensure we have the capacity to support recovery when demand returns. Measures introduced to limit coach access are often controversial – in current circumstances, they are manifestly self-defeating. The local and national government must act now to suspend them.”