(TMU) — For some of us who are stuck at home, dreaming about what we’ll do once lockdown measures are relaxed has become almost a new past time.
Whether we’re reading about exotic lands or watching YouTube street food tours by excited travel bloggers, nothing sounds more appealing than a wonderful vacation abroad.
And while many countries are imposing new controls on the flow of foreign visitors, an Italian island is already planning how it can revive its tourism in the wake of the pandemic.
Sicily has announced that it plans to cover a major portion of the costs of visitors’ vacation as a way to lure tourists back.
The Italian island says that it will subsidize half of the flight costs and a third of the hotel expenses for those travelers who visit, reported The Times.
Free tickets will also be provided to many of its world-class museums and archaeological sites.
Sunset on #Etna looks like this , being overclouds does offer an extra energy boost ! Fireplace, sausage and trekking weekend on #Sicily YES possible ! This is all just 20 km from @CTAairport . Visit #Sicily pic.twitter.com/IaOfNwBTDg
— Alex (@GuyThatFly) January 17, 2020
With tourism making up 13% of Italy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Sicily alone has suffered losses of more than €1 billion ($1.09 billion) in revenue related to the tourism industry, especially after Italy became the European epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed plan will cost the island roughly 50 million euros (about $55 million USD), but local authorities hope that an influx of bargain-hunting, quarantine-weary vacationers will help the region refill its war chest in due time.
🇬🇧 Someone said that #Pozzallo is a place where you never grow old. Maybe it's because it is a sort of terrace facing the Mediterranean Sea from where you can look at the vastness of sky and sea?
— Visit Sicily (@VisitSicilyOP) April 30, 2020
Those who are interested in visiting Sicily’s numerous attractions—ranging from the lunar landscape of the majestic volcano, Mt. Etna, to the Caribbean-style beaches of Messina and the island’s world-famous cuisine—are encouraged to keep an eye on the Visit Sicily website, where vouchers will be available as soon as the country opens its borders.
We can’t endorse Sicily enough as a travel destination. After all, where else can you enjoy a “Brioche con Gelato”—literally an ice cream sandwich inside a buttery soft roll—for breakfast? The country’s brilliant seafood dishes, famous pastas and countless other rich foods show show why the island, with its multicultural past, is celebrated as the gateway of the Mediterranean Sea.
CALTAGIRONE, A STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
Brimming with cultural vigor, strength and resilience, Caltagirone is the heart of the authentic, wild southeastern Sicily.https://t.co/9G0Oywh4nW#Sicilia #Sicily #travel #italy #beautyfromitaly pic.twitter.com/RXGhOWp7M6
— BEAUTY FROM ITALY (@BeautyfromItaly) April 29, 2020
However, it remains unclear when the deal will come into effect, especially as access to air travel remains difficult across the world while many people remain under strict quarantine measures that prevent them from leaving their homes, let alone their countries for a nice spring or summer vacation.
It would seem that setting your sights on autumn for your Sicilian vacation is the best bet.
The Italian government declared a state of emergency on March 10 that included major travel restrictions, the imposition of shelter-at-home measures, and a ban on public gatherings. Italy has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic with a total death toll now standing at 27,967, second only to the United States, and one of the longest coronavirus lockdowns worldwide.
However, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte plans to proceed with a cautious lifting of restrictions beginning May 4, when many parks, factories and construction sites throughout the country will open. Shops will remain closed until May 18, while bars, restaurants and hairdressers remain closed until June 1.
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