Italy welcomes tourists (but the feeling’s not mutual)

Rome wants to open its borders for the summer season, but other countries are still wary.

6/3/2020 10:00:00 AM

Aiming to make up ground after the late start to the summer season, Italy opens its borders to all European Union tourists

Rome wants to open its borders for the summer season, but other countries are still wary.

Senator and former tourism minister Gian Marco Centinaio of the far-right League party told POLITICO, “The EU’s job is to care for and guarantee fundamental principles such as freedom of movement of people and goods. If there are limitations on movement of citizens of countries like Italy, Spain and Sweden, it means something in Europe does not work.”

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He said the government had failed to communicate the improved health outlook in Italy, and lacked the clout to get a seat at the top table with other EU leaders.President of the Veneto region Luca Zaia, also of the League, called the decision by Greece to exclude northern Italy “absolutely reprehensible.”

“If I were foreign minister, I would be in Athens already,” hesaid in a press conference.Di Maio is set to meet his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Rome for talks on Wednesday, followed by a five-day diplomatic mission to Slovenia, Greece and Germany to try to negotiate a more unified approach.

Some are concerned that other countries see a strategic advantage to Italy’s isolation, hoping to take some of its market share. Italy is very popular with German tourists and has seen a 30 percent rise in numbers in the past decade, especially on the northern lakes and the Adriatic coast.

With the border from Italy to Austria closed, it could be difficult for high-spending Germans to return from Italy. Croatia has been aggressively marketing its coronavirus-free beaches in Germany.But in the battle for German beach towels, Italy has a powerful ally — Angela Merkel — who usually holidays on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. She

reportedlytold European Parliament President David Sassoli, an Italian, last week that she couldn’t wait to return.With Merkel's holiday at stake, Austria has agreed that Germans can pass through a special corridor to Italy.Locals on Ischia are eagerly awaiting Merkel’s arrival. As Mayor Rosario Caruso told local media: “We have a special connection with Angela. She has become a friend that we want to embrace again after this terrible experience.”

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