‘We’re hoping for a good season’: Italy prepares to welcome back tourists Industry that accounts for 14% of country’s GDP hopes to bounce back as Covid travel restrictions are relaxed.
If anyone is strategically placed to take note of the people setting foot on the tiny Italian island of Giglio it’s Rosalba Pellegrini. Her bar and pastry shop, Fausto, faces the port, where ferries arrive from Porto Santo Stefano, a town on the Tuscan peninsular of Monte Argentario. A smattering of people, mainly hikers and cyclists, descended from the midday boat on Monday.
“We’ve seen a few new faces coming over the last couple of weekends, but otherwise it is very, very quiet,” she said.
That could be about to change now that Italy has dropped Covid-19 quarantine measures for tourists arriving from EU and Schengen area countries, as well as the UK and Israel. The quarantine has also been removed for visitors travelling from the US, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates onboard Covid-tested flights. All tourists will need to provide evidence of having been fully vaccinated with an EU-approved Covid-19 vaccine, of having recovered from the virus or tested negative 48 hours prior to travelling.
Like other small Italian islands, Giglio will next week vaccinate its entire population of about 1,400, as well as seasonal workers, as it readies for the summer season.
“We did surprisingly well last summer even though the season started late,” added Pellegrini. “But it’s been a long and tough winter. We practically all live off tourism, so it’s fundamental for the island’s survival.”
Giglio boasts several pristine bays with crystal clear water and is a paradise for walkers, but it is mostly known beyond Italy for the tragedy of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship which partially sank just metres away from the island’s shore in January 2012, killing 32 people. The huge, rusting hulk of the vessel loomed over Giglio’s port – attracting plenty of day-trippers who called by for a quick photograph – before being removed in July 2014.
Sergio Ortelli, the mayor of Giglio, has since worked hard to promote the island to foreign tourists.
“Giglio was passed by during the Costa Concordia period as many people associated the island with terror,” said Ortelli. “So we did a big tourism campaign all over the world and organised cultural events to try and get people back. Giglio is not a big island but it is welcoming, and we’re ready to host people.”