The smell of hand sanitizer in a public space is the first thing you notice almost anywhere in Italy right now. The next, of course, is the masks and gloves and military and police everywhere. The new “epicenter” and “emergency state” seem to tell the story of a massive plague gripping the country, and everyone is in fear and the global reaction to it is massive.
Late Friday, the IS administration raised the safety threat level to the ominous “level 3,” which sets off a global warning about this country.
Yet, even so, half a dozen American study abroad programs had already yanked their students out of Florence cause there are cases in all of Tuscany. British Airways cancelled direct flights to Milan and Israel and Mauritius banned all flights from Italy no matter where they take off from. An Italian journalist we read got shut out of a hotel he had reserved in Greece because he was coming from Rome.
Italy’s hotel federation says that just one week into the crisis, the cancellation rate for reservations has shot to 70 percent in Milan. Those numbers will skyrocket even more that the U.S. has told Americans to “reconsider” travel to Italy. That’s bad news for this tourism-dependent country since one of the biggest tourist seasons is Easter, a few weeks away.
The World Health Organization put out a statement saying travel restrictions should be “consistent and proportionate to local risk assessment” which means cancelling travel to a city like Rome, where just three people were infected, including two Chinese tourists and a researcher who flew in from China. They have since recovered completely.
Still, the number of cancellations will almost definitely strain, if not destroy, smaller tourism entities.
It is hard to deny that infected Italians are spreading the virus. The first cases in at least 14 countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Nigeria, have been infected Italians who traveled to those regions from northern Italy, possibly subjecting everyone on their flight along the way.
In Italy, authorities concede that perhaps they’ve gone a little crazy with the number of tests they have carried out, which has topped 12,000 so far with more than 821 positive results. The civil protection agency in Italy gives daily statistics, like they do when there is a major earthquake or other natural disaster.
Another story online: When four Italian guests tested positive in a resort in Tenerife in the Canary Islands off Spain, travel companies started calling other Italians to say they needed medical certificates if they lived in the north of the country. Would you feel uncomfortable if an Italian group checked in to the hotel room next to you?
“In just over 48 hours we have gone from a safe country … to be a European cluster,” Italy’s tourism federation said in a statement Friday. “… The consequences are an avalanche of cancellations, missed reservations, and closing of the Italian travel market that have no justification.”
Even the ministry titles the Corona Virus epidemic as EMERGENCY on their website.
American tourism is preparing for the backlash and new bookings for “stay local” tourism in the USA are expected in huge figures. When safe travel is provided by the world’s leading health administration – the United States of America – the local American businesses will thrive and show their best side.
The new Italy? Palm Springs, great weather, amazing cosy boutique hotels and great food. Hawaii, nice beaches and fabulous music. Lake Las Vegas, looks like an Italian village, and without gambling which is pretty unique for the Las Vegas region.