‘We are gifting our tourists abroad’: Italian hoteliers angry at rules allowing residents to holiday outside Italy

'We are gifting our tourists abroad': Italian hoteliers angry at rules allowing residents to holiday outside Italy
A passenger at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
The head of Italy's hotel industry body expressed outrage on Monday at government coronavirus rules that allow Italians to take holidays abroad but ban domestic travel.

“I can’t leave my municipality , but I can fly off to the Canary Islands — it’s absurd,” Bernabo Bocca, head of the federation of Italian hoteliers, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“Hoteliers feel they are being mocked. The rules must be respected, but they should be the same for everyone… otherwise they will kill Italian tourism.”

Much of Italy has been under tough restrictions in recent weeks due to a third wave of coronavirus infections, meaning residents must stay in their local area. The whole country will go into lockdown over the three-day Easter weekend starting Saturday, April 3rd.

EXPLAINED: What are Italy’s rules for travel over Easter?

Bocca said that “85 percent of hotels in Italy are forced to stay closed” due to restrictions that keep residents from leaving their own town or region. But travelling to the airport for a foreign holiday is allowed, the Interior Ministry recently confirmed.

“We suggested coronavirus tests in hotels when people arrive and when they leave, but it was refused,” Bocca said, adding: “We are gifting our tourists abroad.”

Before the pandemic, Italy was the world’s fifth-most visited destination. But visitor numbers collapsed by more than 60 percent last year, dealing a heavy blow to the economy.

Residents of Italy who go abroad for holidays, which is currently only permitted in other EU countries, have to observe Italian health precautions on their return, including testing negative for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before they arrive.

The Italian Foreign Ministry recommends avoiding overseas travel unless absolutely necessary, including within the EU.

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