13 August 2009

Of museums, Disney, and falling tourist numbers

The current issue of The Economist has an article about the impact of the global recession on European tourism; one Italian hotel industry official calls the situation "a debacle." Among the signs of gloom:

During the first five months of the year, the number of overnight stays by foreign visitors in French hotels fell by 15.5%. The number of foreigners who visited Spain in the first six months was 11.4% lower than in 2008. The situation is equally grim in Italy, where overnight stays by foreign guests were 11.5% lower in the first half of the year.
So what to do about it? (I mean, aside from hoping that yours truly gets filthy rich in Monaco and then altrustically blows all the winnings in restaurants and hotels across the Continent ... 'Cause that's probably not going to happen.) Well, one top tourism official seems to think that now is the time for ambitious developments and over-the-top plans. You know, because that's worked out so well for Dubai. Quoth The Economist:

Mauro Cutrufo, Rome’s head of tourism, believes the recession is an opportunity to push grandiose new schemes: marinas to match Monte Carlo, golf courses like those in Spain and theme parks to rival Disneyland. That is probably a mistake. However the world’s economy fares, tourists are unlikely to abandon Mickey Mouse in favour of a Roman theme park. But foreigners will always want to visit the Colosseum and the Vatican museums, or make a pilgrimage to Paris to see the Mona Lisa.

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