Italy and Spain, of all places, were hit hard by the Corona crisis – and are now desperately in need of tourists to stop the decline of their troubled economy. In the 07/2020 issue, Personal-Financial.com compared both countries in a double analysis. We will publish the article on Spain on Sunday
The Grand Hotel Rimini is back – after almost three months of pandemic vacancy. The house has never been closed for so long in its 112-year history, and its reopening is symbolic for many here: When the most famous hotel in the most sought-after seaside resort finally welcomes guests, then perhaps one can hope for the return of tourists to Italy – and for the comeback of a country hit by the pandemic as early and hard as no other in Europe.
“We will offer our guests the same vacation as always,” promises Paola Batani. The 42-year-old is the boss of Batani Select Hotels, her group operates ten other luxury accommodations on the Riviera in addition to the Grand Hotel Rimini. The closure of the family business cost a third of its annual turnover, says Batani. “It was a shock for us, we lost millions. But then we developed a security concept. “
Tourism – the great opportunity for relaxation
The guests should now be kept as separate as possible. There is enough space for this on the huge area of the Grand Hotel Rimini. Paola Batani is optimistic: “Tourism will restart and make our economy strong again.”
But will guests actually come? Do they bring Italy a change of mood? It would be so important: for the country, but also for a united Europe. Because its breaking point is called Italy. The economy has been suffering from this for years. The month-long paralysis of industry and tourism threatens to give the country the rest.
Thousands of companies are on the brink of bankruptcy and up to a million people are at risk of unemployment. At the same time, more Italians than ever want to get out of the euro and the EU. They feel betrayed by the Northern Europeans, who many perceive here as selfish, as stingy – and whose money is now more urgently needed than ever.
“If Italy can recover at all, it will only be possible through tourism,” says Jörg Krämer, chief economist at Commerzbank. In normal times, the sector accounts for 13 percent of Italian economic output, employs 4.2 million people, and is one of the few growth drivers.
To save the industry, the government in Rome has started a radical U-turn. After one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, she reopened the borders earlier than most. The originally planned four meters minimum distance between the beach chairs was reduced to one meter under pressure from the travel lobby. Families should receive a bonus of up to 500 euros for holidays in Italy. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has even negotiated a passage corridor across the Brenner Pass with Austria for what is by far the most important foreign holiday group, the Germans.