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‘New model’: How Florence and Venice plan to rebuild tourism after the coronavirus crisis

The mayors of Venice and Florence, Italy's world-famous cradles of art and history, published plans on Monday to help them rebuild on a "new model" of tourism.

'New model': How Florence and Venice plan to rebuild tourism after the coronavirus crisis
People at Florence's Ponte Vecchio in 2018. Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP

The plans, set out in a nine-page booklet, include more policing and more funds for public transport, but also better regulation for guides and for short-term accommodation rentals.

READ ALSO: Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy’s tourist hotspots

In the Decalogo, or “ten commandments” which was sent to the Italian government, the mayors set out ten things they would like to see happen as travel restarts. 
 
The two cities urged the government to give them more powers to regulate the tourist industry when travellers eventually return.
 
Their ideas could be adopted by other parts of Italy, he said, adding: “As soon as the borders reopen after the coronavirus emergency, the country must be ready.”
 
Even as most of Italy entered a new lockdown on Monday, Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella spoke of the need to look ahead to “a new model of tourism also linked to enhancing, promoting and protecting cities of art”.
 
Among the changes they called for was more power to limit the spread of Airbnb in their cities.
 
“The short-term rental phenomenon needs to be better managed, with clearer rules nationally,” the document reads, saying some operators were “hiding a business behind a rental” meaning the had an unfair tax advantage which allowed them to undercut registered hotels.
A street seller sets up at St. Marks’s Square, Venice. Photo: ANDREA PATTARO/AFP.
 
It also recognised that the unregulated tourist rentals can “generate problems in the area,” particularly if they are apartments in a residential building.
 
They also suggest limiting some commercial activities aimed at tourists and “preserving the craft and neighbourhood shops in the historic centres”, by limiting new store openings to those selling high-quality local produce and crafts, and bringing in rules on shopfronts to improve the appearance of city streets.
 
They also suggested stricter regulations for tour guides and banning “free tours”, where guides work for tips and are often unregulated.
 
The document said businesses run by “unskilled” and unregulated operators “weaken the country’s overall tourism offering”.

The mayors wrote that they also wanted instant fines for visitors caught vandalisng the cities’ streets or monuments, as well as “smart control rooms with increased video surveillance”.

IN PHOTOS: Italy’s cities fall silent under new lockdown

“The idea was born after listening to the speech of President Draghi on the day of his inauguration, in which he touched on the theme of the cities of art and the need for a new model of tourism”, said Nardella.

Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro emphasised that as “ambassadors of Italy in the world”, their two cities must lead the way.

Crowds mass at the Rialto Bridge, Venice in 2018. Photo: Venezia Autentica

Mass tourism had only been set to keep growing in Italy in recent years, leading to widespread concerns about whether cities like Florence and Venice would be able to cope.

In Venice, increased tourism had long been blamed for a rise in petty crime, from littering to vandalism, and the lagoon city famously struggles with pollution from the large number of cruise ships docking in the lagoon.

Before the pandemic, the centres of Italy’s most famous cities were usually swamped by tourists – so much so that they had in recent years brought in a range of measures aimed at reducing the ill-effects of mass tourism.

Authorities, tired of what they saw as bad behaviour from tourists, had cracked down on offences ranging from outdoor snacking in central Florence to cycling shirtless and brewing coffee in the street in Venice.

READ ALSO:

Venice last year also delayed the planned introduction of a new tourist tax, intended to help cover the costs of keeping the city clean and safe after years of problems caused by overtourism.

Authorities in the canal city said the levy, targeted at day-trippers excluded from an existing tax on tourists staying overnight, will now not be implemented until 2022.
 
The city had just installed new ‘people counting’ technology as the crisis hit in February 2020.

With dwindling numbers of local residents left in central areas of either city. both Venice and Florence have been quiet since the pandemic arrived and put a stop to most travel.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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