Italians who depend on tourism for their livelihoods are missing their American customers these days, according a recent article by the Chicago Tribune. The number of American travelers to Italy has fallen some 20% over the past year and everyone from taxi drivers to store clerks to government officials are feeling their absence and blaming the global economic crisis. More reporting from the Tribune:
- Italian officials predict about a million fewer admissions at museums and tourists sites due to fewer Americans.
- Clerks at the high-end shops on Rome’s Via Condotti say that Chinese and Russian visitors are the only ones dropping big bucks on designer goods.
- American Express has closed its offices in Venice’s Piazza San Marco and near the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, but blame the closings on high rents rather than fewer travelers.
- One driver says there are visitors to Italy, but they are a different kind: “Now a lot of tourists are taking low-cost tours or coming from Eastern Europe. We have a name for them: The ‘tight-fisted tourists.’ “
While the situation may seem grim for the Italian tourism industry, it is actually quite favorable for Americans who choose to travel to Italy now. First of all, there will be fewer crowds – always a good thing for an authentic Italian vacation! Italian hotels and travel companies anxious for customers, will be offering better deals. Finally, the exchange rate is much better than it has been in a long time – today the euro is $1.28.