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Milan hotels risk Expo bookings 'flop'

Milan hotels risk Expo bookings 'flop'
The Expo world fair opens in Milan in May. Expo photo: Shutterstock

Milan hotels are facing a "flop on a global scale" over bookings for the city's Expo, the president of Italy's hotels association has said. But the director tasked with promoting tourism at the world fair told The Local that there are signs of improvement.

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Giorgio Palmucci, president of the Associazione Italiana Confindustria Alberghi, said bookings ahead of the trade exhibition's May 1st opening were considerably lower than expected.

“A few days away from the universal exposition, bookings are disappointing. More should have been done,” he was quoted in Il Sole 24 Ore as saying.

“There were too many mistakes. Enit (the national tourism agency), short of resources, could not invest to promote Expo in the international market,” he added.

Hotel prices had not been hiked and were at risk of falling, he said.

Palmucci also pointed the blame at Explora, the company responsible for tourism at Expo, for not achieving significant results.

“Urgent intervention is needed otherwise we risk a flop on a global scale,” he said.

But according to Sergio Valentini, the director of Explora, the situation is about to get better.

“We are concerned; everyone’s concerned about Expo. But there are signs of improvement and we’re beginning to see the Expo effect,” he told The Local.

Valentini, who took over the Explora directorship on Thursday, said last-minute bookings should be considered the norm rather than the exception.

This month the company launched its Wonderful Expo 2015 website in nine languages, including Chinese and Russian, to further promote tourism around the international fair.

Additionally, Valentini is on Thursday meeting other tourism representatives to better plan ahead.

“We are putting together a new plan, what has been lacking so far is a coordinated effort,” he said. 

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