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Venice, Florence look ahead to tourist returns

The mayors of Venice and Florence, Italy’s world-famous cradles of art and history, published plans Monday to help them rebuild after the coronavirus crisis on a “new model” of tourism. They want more police to ensure safety and more funds for public transport, but also better regulation for guides and for short-term accommodation rentals, which they said provide “unfair competition”. The two cities urged the government to give them more powers to regulate the tourist industry when travellers eventually return.

Even as most of Italy entered a new lockdown Monday, Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella spoke of the need to look ahead to “a new model of tourism also linked to enhancing, promoting and protecting cities of art”. Their ideas could be adopted by other parts of Italy, he said, adding: “As soon as the borders reopen after the coronavirus emergency, the country must be ready.” Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro emphasized that as “ambassadors of Italy in the world”, their two cities must lead the way.

Before the pandemic, the centers of both Venice and Florence were swamped by tourists-so much so that Venice moved to introduce a tourist tax to limit numbers. Both cities have become ghost towns since the pandemic swept across Europe one year ago, grounding international travel, devastating the economy and leaving more than 102,000 people in Italy dead. – AFP


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