Rome, Apr 13 (EFE).- Tourists from across Europe returned to Italy for the Easter holidays this year as Covid-19 restrictions ease in what was is something of a trial-run ahead of the highly popular summer season, although it will nonetheless be overshadowed by the absence of the Russians due to sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Unlike last year, almost all remaining Covid-19 measures have been lifted in Italy, which is expecting a boost tourism, an industry battered by the pandemic.
Some 14 million Italians are expected to pack their bags at Easter mostly for domestic trips, generating revenue of 7 billion euros, the hotel federation Federalberghi estimates.
The federation’s president, Bernabò Bocca, acknowledges that this is “a good sign” but adds that it was too soon to claim it as a “victory” because a new cloud was looming on the horizon for the country’s tourism sector — the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
European sanctions mean that tourists from Russia, who make up 1.5% of the Italy’s visitors annually, will be unable to travel to the country.
Sources from the Assoturismo federation told Efe that the lack of Russian tourists would cost the hotel sector an estimated 20 million euros ($21.6m) by April 25, the day after Orthodox Easter.
Over a million Russians visited Italy in 2019, a year before the pandemic broke out, spending nearly a billion euros, according to the national tourism entity.
“The absence of Russian tourists will obviously be noticeable, especially in some locations, but although they accounted for a significant share of our visitors, it was not the most relevant,” head of Assoturismo Confesercenti, Vittorio Messina, said.
According to tourist operators, Italy will also miss out on “large groups” from outside the EU, such as China, Japan and South Korea.
Some 2.1 million travellers from Asia visited the European country, sending nearly 3 billion euros, according to the national tourism entity.
“This Easter, visitors from Western Europe and especially Italians are on the move,” Messina said.
“The expectation is that international demand will strengthen in the face of summer, since foreigners are equivalent to half of the summer tourists,” Messina added. EFE