Sun and beach tourism has always been one of Italy’s most popular tourist activities; even during its recent recession. In fact, sun and beach tourism has been one of the main drivers behind Italy’s recovery from the recession. However, the recent threat to the health and wellness of Europeans from the swine flu pandemic has dashed those hopes. What does this mean for Italy’s sun and beach tourism?
Sun and beach tourism has always been among Italy’s best-selling tourist activities, but recent reports have suggested that the sector is in for a real crisis. The biggest impact so far has been in the travel sector, particularly in the European travel market. Tourists are cancelling holidays and airlines are cutting back on flights. The potential impact on Italy’s sun and beach tourism can hardly be ignored.
It is no secret that many travellers are cutting costs wherever possible to reduce their spending on travel and accommodation. Italy is not an exception. So while some may be looking for bargain holidays to drier and less busy destinations such as Spain and the Costa del Sol, others are opting for more luxurious and sustainable developments. The result is that thousands of European tourists are having to make the sacrifice in order to enjoy their holidays.
The problem is not unique to Spain. Across the region, tourism hotspots are struggling to fill the gap left by a diminishing number of tourists. One solution has been to develop sustainable tourism strategies that give local people more control over their economy. The Italian government has long been implementing such projects, especially in Sicily where a participatory approach has proved very effective. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the region’s natural environment: the extensive network of marine reserves and programmes aimed at protecting its fragile ecosystem.
As well as providing a much-needed respite from tourist crowds, these projects are creating a base for local fishermen who feel that they have a right to the waters surrounding their fishing villages. Many of these areas are protected and have strict regulations in place to protect marine life. In some parts of the area, there are also protected stretches of sandy beaches that can be enjoyed by visitors without breaking any laws. These offer a diverse target group of holidaymakers, many of whom would never have been able to enjoy the coast without the support of local people.
However, many of the most popular beach destinations across Europe are actually experiencing what some describe as “pure leisure”. In some places like Mallorca, the pristine waters surrounding the resort of Costa Del Sol provide a unique chance to indulge in a number of sports, including windsurfing, sailing and swimming. Other popular activities here include water skiing, banana boat rides and sailing. Tourists come not only to enjoy these sporty activities, but also to sample the cuisine of the area, which is renowned for its use of local produce.
In Ibiza, Spain, tourists can sample a different type of holiday. Whilst on holidays to Ibiza, they can watch sea turtles make their way along the coast, or go snorkeling amongst the reefs. For more energetic travellers, bungee jumping is an activity that can be enjoyed without fear thanks to organisations that work to create courses for beginners. With the assistance of these courses, more adventurous tourists can try out new bungee jumping tricks on the beaches of Ibiza, whilst the more experienced ones can take part in more physically demanding activities such as paragliding.
When it comes to pure leisure tourism in Europe, few places can offer as varied and exciting options as Ibiza. Not only is it known for its stunning sandy beaches, but also for its energetic nightlife. In Ibiza, visitors can sample the nightlife, as well as sunbathing and clubbing to their hearts’ content. With all these options available to visitors, it makes for unique experiences that are popular with European tourists.