Italy is expecting to lose at least €5 billion in tourism over fears of the coronavirus outbreak, the president of the nation’s travel and tourism industry warned on Monday night.
“The latest serious news related to the spread of coronavirus in our country has brought the Italian tourism industry to its knees,” said Marina Lalli, the president of Italy’s travel and tourism industry Federturismo Confindustria, according to a report by Corriere della Sera. Lalli noted that that estimate was made prior to the recent spread of the virus, so it is likely to be on the low end.
“The most conservative estimates before the release spoke of a loss of 5 billion euros, but now we are in a position that we can no longer even estimate the impact due to the dramatic evolution underway,” she added.
Lalli projects that Italy will suffer a major loss in tourism this year due to international fears over the nation’s recent coronavirus outbreak, which have resulted in 283 confirmed cases and 11 deaths as of Tuesday.
“Even in the case of a rapid solution of the problem for our sector, [tourism] is compromised,” said Lalli, who went on to explain that Italy typically receives travel bookings for the entire half of the year by now, but that these booking are “missing,” along with thousands of existing bookings already canceled.
“In addition to the thousands of cancellations, there are also the missing bookings for the entire second half of 2020, normally already well underway in this part of the year,” said the president of Federturismo Confindustria.
“In light of these recent developments and on behalf of a sector that represents over 10 percent of the GDP and over 4 million workers, we wrote to the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte asking for the state of crisis for the tourism sector and to activate all measures of support to protect the jobs and the life of our companies,” added Lalli.
“We are very worried,” Lalli affirmed. “In a very short time the situation has advanced.”
“Until a few days ago, Italy was substantially free from the epidemic, with a very limited number of patients under observation, due to infections contracted abroad,” she added. “Today we are in the eye of the hurricane and the damage to the image has already turned into economic damage.”
Bernabò Bocca, the president of Federalberghi – the federation of Italian hotels and tourism – echoed Lalli’s concerns of the coronavirus’ impact on the Italian economy, stating, “The stakes are very high.”
“During the months of February and March the Italian hospitality establishments hosts 14.5 million Italian and foreign tourists, for almost 40 million overnight stays,” he said.
Bocca added that contrary to what some might believe, February and March are actually high-season months for travel in Italy.
“We are not in the low season,” said Bocca. “For some areas of the country, this is a period of intense activity.”