“The numbers tell us that the economic impact of massive vaccination campaigns is very concrete,” Stefano Bettanin, president of short-term rental property owners’ association Property Managers Italia, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Tuesday.
“We’re taking many bookings from Britain and the USA, and it is no coincidence that these are countries where the most vaccine doses have been administered,” he said. “Now people feel safer and want to travel again.”
Their booking data showed Sicily was by far the most in-demand destination for these visitors, closely followed by Puglia, which is especially popular among the Brits.
“In these areas, the average stay time is much longer, also because foreigners find prices lower than in their countries and the quality of life much higher,” said Bettanin.
“This year the requests are for longer holiday periods, partly thanks to the possibility of smart working,” he added.
Italy has not confirmed the rules for vaccinated visitors this summer, and has not yet confirmed when the travel restrictions could be relaxed.
Many rules and restrictions remain in place in the country at the moment amid a still-high infection rate and a vaccination programme far slower than that in the US or UK.
However there are some positive signs for hopeful visitors, as the head of the European Commission said she expects that those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the EU this summer.
The Italian tourism industry has said it expects high revenues this summer – though the return of mass tourism looks unlikely, and booking data shows some changing trends.
While bookings appear to be flooding in for rural or seaside areas. Italy’s tourism-focused cities, normally thronged by more visitors than they can handle, are not getting as many bookings and are expected to struggle again this summer.
Rather than Florence, for example, nearby rural areas like Tuscany’s Chianti and Crete Senesi are thought to be experiencing a surge in popularity,
“The restart will also be strong in Veneto; in Venice, Padua, Verona and Vicenza, especially in the villas in the countryside,” Bettanin explained.
“Customers are looking for authentic experiences. The baglio in Sicily, the trullo in Puglia, the Palladian villas in Veneto,” he said. “People want a garden and privacy, a place to feel comfortable with the family.”
Italian tourism chiefs are urging the government to drop the 10pm curfew and limitations on restaurants and other businesses amid concerns they will put visitors off – particularly when neighbouring countries such as Greece have fewer rules in place.
Italy is depending on summer tourism to help offset its economic downturn – one of the worst in Europe.
While Italy has recently started loosening coronavirus restrictions in some parts of the country, the government has not yet announced any changes to the current restrictions on international travel.
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So far the only indication from the Italian government is that it hopes to allow tourism by early June. An update from the government is expected by May.
Almost all travel to or from Italy at the moment requires coronavirus testing and quarantine on arrival, with rules varying depending on the country you’re travelling from.
Tight restrictions remain in place on non-essential travel from many countries, including the US.
Italy is likely to adopt the European ‘Green Certificate’, allowing easier movement between member states for those who are fully vaccinated, or have tested negative within the 48 hours before travel.
It is not clear yet whether this or any other pass would be available to travellers from the UK or US, or what the rules would be for vaccinated tourists from those countries arriving in Italy.
Find more information about travel to or from Italy on the Health Ministry’s website (in English).