“I am aware of the responsibilities in taking up the leadership to tourism, and I know that we cannot make any more mistakes. I will not take the merit of a tourist season that is proving very good for our country, and I intend to take advantage of these weeks to hear all the categories of the sector. By the fall then I will pass to concrete actions,” said the new Italy Tourism Minister, Gian Marco Centinaio, that now brings together in a new department agricultural policies, forestry, and tourism under “MIPAFT.”
In Centinaio’s “to do list,” there is, as anticipated, “the realization of a House of Tourism, at the Enit headquarters, (currently at MIBACT) where the entire structure of the Tourism Department will be positioned, to build a continuous dialogue between those who must manage tourism promotion and those who must also act in support of all companies in the sector.
Gian Marco Centinaio added, “In this regard, I immediately say that we must focus on a high-end tourism and go up that list that sees Italy at the fifth position.
“In addition, I will try, from the comparison with other offices, to remedy some anomalies – first of all the tourist tax, which must be turned into tax purpose, not to restore the debts of the municipalities, but to create important budgets for the promotion of the territories.”
On the unauthorized subjects, Centinaio anticipated a tough fight: “The OLTA (Online Tour Operators) must sell only tour packages. Foreign players like Airbnb operating and doing business in Italy must comply with Italian rules. I will ensure that our Italy is not a prairie where everyone can operate at own will.”
Centinaio continued his speech by re-launching a transversal Italy Plan, which involves the excellence of Made in Italy, creating a virtuous synergy with agriculture.
The minister clarified that he does not want to remove the autonomy and the competences of the regions. On the contrary, the regions and the companies must work on a constructive strategy that will boost Italian tourism.
Shortly, a first meeting has been set up with a group of regions, to create a work plan to be shared with the State-Regions Conference, which, in the minister’s opinion, has not been applied at its best in recent years.
On Italy tourism vouchers, he said: “I have already pointed out to other office colleagues that the vouchers are useful, both for tourism and for agriculture, and I will make sure that this matter is maintained within my terms of reference taking into account the seasonality of these sectors.”
On Alitalia, Centinaio stated that a flag carrier, as Alitalia still is, must follow tourist strategies and preside over those destinations where private operators have invested, because there is strong potential for growth.
“In this regard, I want to reiterate that my activity covers the tourism incoming and outgoing, because I am aware that there are many companies in the sector working on other aspects that are not strictly incoming,” he said.
Centinaio finally clarified its position on the Bolkestein directive. The aim of the directive is to promote the free movement of services and the breaking down of the barriers between the various countries by ensuring the bathing companies sector and by engaging in dialogue with the Ministry of Economy so that the bathing establishments are considered “area leases” and not “service contracts.”
Commenting on the first issue of Centinaio, the president of Federturismo, Gianfranco Battisti, expressed his satisfaction because “in committing to listening to all categories, Centinaio demonstrated sensitivity towards the private companies of the sector, and it is a good starting point, especially for a federation like ours that boasts over 9,000 companies in the sector and 22 trade associations directly involved in Italy tourism.”