The coronavirus has wrought incalculable damage on every sector of the world economy, but few industries have been as tangibly and immediately impacted as tourism. The World Tourism Council estimates that more than 50 million jobs in the industry could be lost, and that the sector itself could shrink by up to 25 per cent this year alone.
Italy, which has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus, heavily relies on its lucrative tourism industry. According to the Bank of Italy, tourism accounts for around 6 per cent of the country’s GDP and more than 1.5 million residents work in accommodation and food services.
Sicily, the beautiful Mediterranean island that looks like it’s being kicked by the rest of boot-shaped Italy, is doing it especially tough. It’s already lost US$1.09 billion in revenue since Italy went into lockdown in March. But the summer tourism season is about to kick off in Europe, and with lockdowns easing in Italy from next week, the tourism sector has big plans for luring tourists back.
Sicily’s government has an especially ambitious plan: it’ll be paying for tourists to holiday there. It’s earmarked US$50 million to get people visiting the island, which is famed for its charming ancient buildings, pristine beaches and unique cuisine.
Here’s the deal: if you take a holiday to Sicily once lockdowns have eased, the Sicilian government will pay for half of your airfare. On top of that, it’s prepared to cover one third of your hotel expenses as well. Sold.
As soon as Italy’s lockdown restrictions have sufficiently eased, vouchers for this deal will be up for grabs via Sicily’s tourism website.
There’s no word on when the deal will drop (or if it will stretch to cover a flight from Australia) – so if you’re keen, you’ll have to set a daily calendar reminder to check in on the website. And we reckon once the vouchers show up, they’ll move pretty quickly. With Australia’s borders closed for the foreseeable future, we’ll also have to wait for things in the world get a lot better before we can realistically start planning the Euro holidays we all crave.