Sicily Pledges to Pay Half of Visitors’ Flight Costs for Late 2020 Vacations

The island has lost $1.1 billion in tourism revenue over the last month

Sicily Pledges to Pay Half of Visitors’ Flight Costs for Late 2020 Vacations
Samuel Ferrar/Unsplash
By Tanner Garrity / May 1, 2020 6:30 am

Across the world, regions that rely heavily on tourism are preparing for unthinkable unemployment figures and economic pain in the coming depression. In the United States, Florida is considered more vulnerable than any other state. In the United Kingdom, holiday spots like Cornwall or Yorkshire will see tens of millions less visitors this summer.

For Italy, a heartbroken country that has accounted for nearly nine percent of global COVID-related deaths and been under national quarantine since March 9, the whole nation is at risk. Over four million of the country’s 60 million people are employed in Italy’s tourism sector, and hospitality accounts for 13 percent of the nation’s total GDP. Certain regions like Sicily, though, are hyper-reliant on the flow of visitors. The Mediterranean island has already registered $1.1 billon in losses since last month.

In an effort to secure visitors for later in the year, along with a little hope for beleaguered Sicilians, the regional government has pledged to pay for half the cost of visitors’ flights, and a third of their hotel expenses. The unprecedented plan would cost Sicily nearly $55 million, but considering the alternative (monthly losses of a billion), it’s a bold, worth-a-shot play to A) remind travelers that Sicily is open for business and B) that’s 2020’s as good a time as any to experience the island’s wine, food and coastal panoramas at a steep discount.

That said, it could be a while before any such trips take place. Only essential travel is currently permissible into or around Italy (you need police permission even to travel for family-related reasons), and lockdown luxuries like restaurant take-out, a mainstay during America’s lockdown, will be available in Italy for the first time next week. Still, museums and libraries are scheduled to open May 18, and salons on June 1, so recovery does seem to be underway.

As always with the COVID-crisis, it’s best to keep yourself educated before making any snap decisions. Head to Visit Sicily frequently for more information, as the plan takes shape, and discount or not, make sure to book your flight with a flexible airline carrier.

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