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Tourism down; Italians spend summer at home

Tourism down; Italians spend summer at home
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Italy has joined Greece and Spain in reporting a tourism downturn because of the eurozone crisis.

An estimated 10 million fewer holidays have been booked in the first half of 2012 compared to last year, according to industry figures.

Tourism chiefs say more Italians too, are choosing to stay at home rather than venturing abroad.

“Fortunately I live here,” said Rita Cancellaro, a nurse who lives near Ostia, the closest beach to the capital Rome. “But as for holidaying somewhere else, no way!”

Tax rises and falling incomes are squeezing Italian budgets. The amount tourists spend while on holiday is down 10 percent and the number of days spent away have also been cut.

Travel agent Stefano Dragone admitted: “The way people travel has changed. Before, families used to go on holiday for a couple of weeks, now they book just one week. Sometimes, they book only a weekend because they cannot afford anything else.”

Officials hope that by promoting hotspots closer to home, more people will be tempted to take a break.

For those that can afford it, no surprise that more than two thirds of Italian will be heading for a beach.