The extraordinary session held at the City Hall on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Source: Roberto Gualtieri Facebook

Rome’s tourism comes out heavily bruised after the pandemic

Rome’s tourism comes out heavily bruised after the pandemic

One-third of the city’s hotels have had to close down

The numbers are worrying: 410 out of a total of 1200 hotels in Rome have already shut down in the wake of the two-year-long COVID pandemic. Many more are on the verge of closing unless something drastic happens to turn the tide in the tourism sector that has seen visits fall by 80% of what they used to be, making the business environment unsustainable.

In that context, the Rome city government called in a special council session, on 24 February, which involved representatives from the tourism and hospitality sectors, the Italian Minister of Tourism Massimo Garavaglia, and the Social Minister Andrea Orlando to discuss what could be done.

The overall agreement is that authorities need to move from support to relaunch

The extraordinary session was called in by the city authorities who were concerned by the troubling statistics and the news that as many as 8,000 people might lose their jobs in the near future. The sessions also coincided with the day that Russia invaded Ukraine, which provided additional concerns about a possible hit to the tourism market.

Rome’s City Council is also convinced that the city plays a central role for the tourism image of the country, yet due to its urban context, it had suffered the most during the pandemic. Whereas the rest of Italy recorded a 36% decrease in tourism visits in 2021, that rate was 80% for the capital city.

Massimo Garavaglia, the Minister of Tourism, spoke about the funds that have already been provided to the sector to the tune of hundreds of million euros, and how more of these were to come. He, however, agreed that the idea was not just to support the industry into infinity but to relaunch it effectively.

As examples, he offered the vision of Rome as a city that can start preparing for two major events coming ahead: the Catholic Church Jubilee in 2025, which will be a large religious event organized by the Vatican, which will likely attract many pilgrims to the city. The other is the 2030 Expo of which Rome will be the host.

In the national government’s view, the preparation for these two grand international events can hold the key to mobilizing the economic resources and reviving the down-trodden tourism sector in the city.

The round table session concluded with the decision to organize a cross-institutional “Crisis Table on Tourism in Rome”, which will have two objectives.

On the one hand, to absorb the impacts of the crisis by safeguarding the stability of the sector and employment, on the other, an effective strategy to relaunch the entire sector. It is also necessary to extend the direct support of the Government and to use, in a more targeted and coherent way, a series of tools that already exist but are not adequately used,” explained Mayor Roberto Gualtieri.



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