Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, will lend his voice to a tourist TV spot to suggest Italian holidaymakers spend their money in Italy especially in the lesser-known places in Southern Italy. The TV spot will also contribute to strengthen the promotional plan of his Minister for Tourism Mrs. Michela Vittoria Brambilla engaged in the launch of the Magic Italy promo-campaign. Ultimately, it is hoped this will all contribute to the recovery of the national tourism economy.
The premier contribution will be limited to his voice (and not his face). “My voice is unique, quite sensual, and easily recognizable,” stated Mr. Berlusconi in his intervention at the National Assembly of the Association of Federalberghi (The Italian Federation of Hoteliers) on occasion of the celebration of their 60th anniversary held in Rome, with the participation of the Minister of Tourism, Michela Vittoria Brambilla; the President of the Lazio Region, Renata Polverini; the Deputy Mayor of Rome, with responsibility for tourism, Mauro Cutrufo; and Mr. Bernabò Bocca, president of Federalberghi.
One of the hot themes focused on the government proposal to introduce a “resident tax for tourists visiting Rome” (from one to ten euro depending on the hotel category). As stated by Mr. Berlusconi, the idea was to support the need of funds to level up old debts accumulated by the Roman municipalty, which the central government has no funds to cover such a gap. The need of said tax, however, will not be extended and applied to other Italian cities. Reflecting the unanimous opinion of the association, Mr. Bernabò Bocca rejected without appeal the idea of the restoration of a toll abolished in Italy fifteen years ago and now returning to penalize only the Roman hoteliers. He stood and said, “If at all necessary, in all fairness, it should be extended justly to all categories.”
While appreciating the activities of government – first of all the restoration of the Ministry of Tourism – Mr. Bocca lamented the degradation of sites, the lack of transport and underground lines in Rome and Milan (Paris has 14), and called for the conversion of military airports for civilian use, especially in view of the two great events coming up, such as the Milan Expo 2015 and the application of Rome to host the Olympics due on 2020.
Rome has invested 9 billion euro in the second largest pole of the region.
An investment, mostly from private investors, will be available to revitalize the potential attractiveness of the city. The territory of the plan involves a quadrant of 27 thousand hectares (Eur areas, Ostia, Civitavecchia, Fiumicino, Aurelia, and Appia Antica)
The plan, with 23 macro projects, includes the requalification of locations of tourist interest that are able to intercept other segments (exhibition and congress, sports, recreational, marine, pleasure craft) which are, so far, underutilized; the new waterfront of Ostia, Rome Aquarium (Mediterraneum); the Formula 1 circuit; the new convention center; the qualification of the fairgrounds; a theme park regarding the Roman Empire; and the expansion of Fiumicino Airport.
Extraordinary Plan for Tourism: 3 Billion Euro
Mr. Berlusconi has also pledged to intervene as soon as possible regarding the IRAP tax cuts on a labor cost component, and within months announced the launch of a special plan for tourism amounting to 3 billion euros, mostly made available by the European Community, to create various incentives for private tourism investment.
Requalification and Seasonal Adjustement
Mr. Bernabò Bocca pointed out that the Italian hotel industry excels in numbers but is lacking in revenue: “Italy ranks in the fourth position in the world by number of rooms (1.1 million) behind giants such as USA, Japan, and China, but ranks second in Europe for number overnight stays (252 million), ahead of France (220 million), behind only Spain (268 million). The average stay is 2-4 days per tourist. This figure must be increased to 4 nights. One of the solutions proposed by the president of Federalberghi is to stop granting licenses to open new hotels.
Being ranked in the 20th position in average room occupancy rate, means that the Italian rooms hôtellerie requires a rigorous requalification and a serious approach to seasonal adjustment.
On this last point, the Minister of Tourism announced to have proposed the refinancing of the holiday vouchers (granted to the category in need for low season vacations), that proved to be very effective and that generated, so far, five million euros.