Buyers at Rome’s Art Cities Exchange praise Italy’s handling of pandemic protocols

Thursday, 25 November 2021 12:25

Rome once again took centre stage last week with a major tourism event, Federalberghi’s Art Cities Exchange at the Crowne Plaza St. Peter Hotel which was attended by over 80 top international buyers and organized by Comitel & Partners. At the over 3,000 meetings between buyers and sellers, business was brisk during the two days of the event and there was much cautious optimism in the air.  

“Covid protocols are in place in Italy and travellers can feel safe”

Many buyers expressed in glowing terms how efficiently Italy is handling the Covid situation. Tim O'Neill from EZ Italy of New York said his clients want to feel safe when travelling. “I explain that the protocols in Italy are in place and that they can really feel safe.  In Italy I see how careful and cautious they are, without being restrictive. It is very important that they maintain this. Italy sells itself, it is a magnificent destination.” Joke Paans, owner of Historia Events, Lisserbroek who specializes in historic tours and hotels said she felt safer in Italy than in the Netherlands. “Here everyone wears masks and there are always checks on the Green Pass, this is strict but it is a good thing.” For Ivana Libertone of See Italy Travel in California the important thing is to reassure clients.  “Many people are still scared to travel, but we give them all the information and assure them they can travel without risk in Italy.”   B2B operator Connie Lücke, Director of Sales, One World Travel in Frankfurt said most of her clients only sell to people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid, and Charlotte Gouget of Autentik Events, France said that health and safety are vital to getting tourism moving again. 

crowne plaza rome

“It is good to get back to live events. People are tired of webinars” 

For Marina Rossi of Behringer Touristik, Germany  “It is great to be back at a live event. You come in contact with new ideas.” Daniela Calzetta of Jet Vacations, Florida found the buyers at the Exchange were enthusiastic. “There is good energy here, we are all crossing our fingers that next year will be a good one. Italy is one of the European countries that have been serious in treating the emergency - she added - I feel quite safe travelling to Italy compared to other countries.” Joke Paans told us that after having no business during the pandemic she is hoping next year will be better. “It will be good to get back to live events, online is better than nothing, but people are tired of webinars.”    

venice

A systematic approach to health and safety measures 

One issue needing to be faced is a systematic approach to the new rules and restrictions travellers are having to deal with. The pandemic has added another layer to the travel experience and it’s not a good one, said Tim O’Neill, who explained that in certain countries, and even in cities and regions in the same country, there are different protocols. “They need to come up with a uniform policy to make it easy for travellers to come. If someone is coming from the States to Europe they can’t be expected to do one thing to go to Italy and another to go to Spain. It’s very cut up right now.”  Daniela Calzetta said she works mainly with groups and that some museums are splitting them up, allowing only allowing eight or ten in at a time. “That’s ridiculous, these kind of restrictions do not help our business. Of course we will follow them, but they should be a little more reasonable.”  Ivana Libertone found that some of the lesser-known regions are not doing enough to make themselves known, “but that depends on the administrations.”  Marina Rossi said not everyone at the Exchange knew enough about their product. “It is important to invest in staff, to provide them with the right tools.”  

florence

“The mood is let’s treat ourselves to something special”

Connie Lücke was surprised to be approached by groups and hotels attending the event that would never have worked with her company before the pandemic “Suppliers who have always relied on other markets like the US and Russia did not need us, but now they do. And hotels are more approachable, which makes our life easier. When things return to normal I think that will change again, but until that happens I’m going to take advantage of it.” Leo Long, Executive, Luxury Tourism, Macao said he was delighted to discover what Latium, Veneto and Piedmont had to offer. Connie Lücke added that she will be putting more services into her itineraries. “People don’t want to queue for hours, so they are willing to spend more on special services and exclusive experiences. Hotels tell me foreign guests are not buying prosecco, now they want champagne. The mood is ‘let’s treat ourselves to something special’ and the trend is the same for travel.” 

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