Plans by Rome’s tourism authorities to reduce coach access to the city’s historical centre by two-thirds will inflict a body blow to the city’s overnight group travel sector, which is worth well-over €1.65 billion, the European Tourism Association has argued today.
An appeal is due to be heard in Consiglio di Stato in Rome today.
The European Tourism Association has released new figures, which quantifies the value and volume of the overnight group leisure travel sector provided by their members to Rome and finds that ETOA members’ contribution alone amounts to 1.8 million overnight stays in Rome’s historic centre each year.
Separately, a study on tourism buses in Rome by Sapienza University found that the average number of coaches in zone C is 600 per week – on average 85 per day.
The new plans will reduce access to zone C to 30 a day.
ETOA and its members, many whom provide services in Rome and tour operators who sell Italy worldwide, have called for a suspension of these new plans until either clear evidence is provided to show they would be beneficial or until there are more effective solutions developed which will have demonstrable long-term benefits for the local community, businesses and visitors.
There are serious concerns about the practicality of the new plan as well as the harm it might cause.
Mario Bodini, chairman of ETOA, said: “Group tourism includes high-value business from developed markets worldwide.
“If Rome becomes operationally problematic, its status as a gateway to the rest of Italy for long haul tourism is in jeopardy. Unless the first-time visit to a destination is a success, travellers will hesitate before booking a second trip to Italy.
“We have already received reports that some operators are moving volume away from Rome for 2020 and cancelling included elements of their remaining programmes.
“We urge Rome not to implement the new coach access plan until a better solution is found.”