Archive for August, 2014

Puglia & tourism: What are they doing to the region?

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

A sobering essay regarding Puglia and tourism development is posted on the website of the Bari-based newspaper La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno.

Titled “Turismo in Puglia e miopia dei comuni” (translated as “Tourism in Puglia and myopia of the municipalities”), the essay by Egidio Pani notes that “The presence of foreign tourists in Puglia is important to the economy of the region,” but questions how local governments have ceded control of the region’s environment to developers, particularly involving high-end resorts that attract well-heeled foreign travelers.

Read the essay and see if you agree with the author’s thoughts. Click here to read the essay in the original Italian and click here for a rough English translation. What do you think?

For better or worse: Puglia in world headlines

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Here some news and some not-so-good news about Puglia, as recently reported by media around the world. Just click on the headlines to read the entire articles:

• Puglia travel challenge: Head off to the heel of Italy

• Puglia’s coastline “devoured” by overdevelopment

• Alien bacteria threatens Puglia’s most prized olive groves

• Puglia: The land of two seas

Puglia tourism hotline back in operation

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Having a problem or complaint while you’re on vacation in Puglia? Help is a just phone call away.

ADOC, the Consumers Association of Puglia, has reactivated the number 333.7860505 for travelers and residents alike to report any “service problems, discrepancies or harassment,” La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno reports.

According to ADOC, the complaints it deals with usually involve allegations of price gouging, overcharging for accommodations or meals, canceled and delayed bookings, and unpleasant surprises such as “bait-and-switch” tactics in which promised amenities or prices are disregarded on arrival.

Puglia’s economy depends heavily on the revenues generated by tourists, so it is important that visitors enjoy quality vacations, get what they pay for and what they expect, and return home to share favorable impressions of the region with other travelers.

Balancing act: Energy needs vs. Puglia’s tourism future

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Two energy-related projects now under consideration could have an adverse impact on Puglia’s physical environment and by extension the region’s tourism industry.

First, courtesy of The Guardian, is this update about a planned 2,000-mile-long natural gas pipeline to stretch from Azerbaijan to Melendugno, a town in Lecce (earlier plans to have the pipeline end in Brindisi were dropped amid protests).

As The Guardian puts it, “On one side are (former British Prime Minister) Tony Blair, a powerful consortium of energy interests, including BP, and the autocratic ruler of a former Soviet bloc country. On the other are the olive growers of Puglia and a comedian turned political maverick. (Beppe Grillo of the Five Star Movement).”

The newspaper adds that the news about Blair’s role as an advisor to the consortium behind the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) “has sparked uproar among people living close to its ultimate destination in the heel of southern Italy.”

The two sides disagree on several points – whether the pipeline would destroy beachfront resort areas, contaminate fresh water supplies, threaten the natural habitat of the already-endangered the Mediterranean monk seal and destroy centuries-old olive groves. The project is scheduled to start in 2016. Stay tuned.

Up next is a proposal to drill for oil in the Adriatic Sea in a 270-square-mile area between Brindisi and Molfetta. As reported by La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, the Bari-based “Comitato No Triv Terra di Bari” (“No Drill in the Terra di Bari Committee) is fighting the plan, offered by Global Petroleum Ltd., to search for hydrocarbon deposits. The sides differ on whether the drilling would damage the area’s tourism and fishing industries.

And that’s not all. Although it doesn’t mention Puglia by name, a study issued today by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) contends that Italy’s coastline has been “devoured” and “martyred” by widespread construction of resorts, shopping centers and other infrastructure projects, ANSA reports. In particular, ANSA quotes the WWF as contending that “the Adriatic coast…described as ‘the most urbanized in the entire Mediterranean basin,’ makes up 17% of the national coastline and is 70% covered in construction.” According to ANSA, the WWF further criticizes Italian national, regional and local government officials for “a clear lack of planning” and their failure “to oversee development and prevent environmental degradation.”

Photo by Sandro Bedessi © Copyright Fototeca ENIT

Beach tourism ups and downs: Why Puglia needs to diversify

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

A tourism destination such as Puglia that depends heavily on a single season for the bulk of its visitor-generated revenues should pay attention to the latest news about the adverse impact of bad weather and economic recession from the Sindacato Italiano Balneari (SIB), a Rome-based association that represents approximately 10,000 Italian beach-related businesses.

And if there was ever a good reason for Puglia to continue to work toward diversifying its tourism industry, even in its traditional peak summer travel season, this is it.

A just-released report from SIB states, “Summer: SIB, The Beach In Deep Crisis.” SIB attributes a “sharp decline in attendance at bathing establishments” to “adverse weather conditions in June and July.” It estimates that businesses in beach destinations throughout Italy have already lost more than 400 million euros. ANSA, the Italian news agency, reported that SIB members saw visitor arrivals drop by up to 70% in June and July, compared with the same period in 2013. As ANSA notes, SIB member operators rent beach chairs and beach umbrellas, furnish lifeguards and run beachfront bars or restaurants. The only bright spot in the new statistics was a slight upswing in arrivals by foreign tourists, particularly Germans and Austrians, but not enough to offset the drop in domestic beach travel.

“The economic crisis weighs heavily on beach holidays,” SIB President Richard Borgo said in a press release, but that “unfavorable weather conditions in June and especially in the month of July” was another significant factor. “Rain and more rain has forced many customers to stay away from the bathing establishments. He said this is “a real cry of alarm and pain.”

The worst conditions were reported by beach destinations in the regions of Campania (down 40% in June and 70% in July), Marche (down 35% and 60%), Liguria (down 40% and 50%) and Tuscany (down 35% and 50%).

Borgo told La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, “The debacle affects the whole tourism chain: fewer clients translates to the sea with empty tables in restaurants, hotels they need to do accounts with free rooms (and) shops with unsold goods.”

Fortunately for Puglia, the region’s weather in June and July was not as bad as in other beach destinations, and it in fact is enjoying a slight upswing in total arrivals because of foreign travelers. But just because Puglia was luckier than some others this time doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen here next time. And as we’ve noted earlier, this year’s Puglia summer beach season has not been off to a stellar start.

In their textbook Marketing Tourism Destinations, authors Ernie Heath and Geoffrey Wall state, “A region that is highly dependent on one specific geographic market for its demand may adopt a strategy of diversification, thereby reducing its dependence on one market.” Yes, Puglia attracts huge amounts of money from summertime beach tourism, but diversifying geographically beyond the beaches and the demographically beyond sun worshipers can generate enormous short- and long-term benefits to region’s tourism industry and its economy as a whole.