Italy’s most iconic tourism destinations, from Venice to Florence and Rome, will lose €7.6 billion (£6.8 bn) in revenue this year as a result of the lack of foreign visitors caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
There will be 34 million fewer tourist “presences” – or overnight stays – this year compared with normal years, according to figures released by a leading business association, Confesercenti.
Tens of thousands of businesses are at risk of going bust, the association warned.
The statistics reveal the devastating impact that the virus is having on some of Italy’s best-known destinations, which are still largely devoid of overseas tourists.
Five cities – Rome, Venice, Florence, Turin and Milan – make up more than a third of tourism revenue.
Confersercenti wants the government to bring in tax breaks for hotels, restaurants, bars and other businesses reliant on tourism so that they can survive the sharp downturn, which could last for months, even years.
Venice is the worst affected city and is predicted to lose more than 13 million overnight tourist stays this year, amounting to €3 billion in lost revenue.
Rome is the second worst hit destination and is likely to see nearly 10 million fewer tourist presences this year compared to normal, missing out on €2.3 billion.
Florence will have five million fewer overnight stays, with a loss of €1.2 billion in spending.
The dearth of foreign tourists will not be made up for by Italians – fewer of them are going on holiday this year, either because of financial troubles or because of fear of the virus, and those that do take a break mostly head for the beach.
The fact that millions of Italians are still working at home also deprives the big cities of commuters and business travelers, who would normally spend money on hotels and eating out.
“Tourism is paying a very high price for the emergency caused by Covid-19,” said Patrizia De Luise, the president of Confesercenti.
“It’s a heavy blow that is being felt particularly in these five cities. It’s a situation of exceptional gravity that requires extraordinary measures.”
The historic centres of the five cities should be permitted tax breaks which would “offer a bit of oxygen” to businesses that otherwise may not survive the economic slump.
Without financial aid, thousands of small and medium-sized businesses “risk falling like skittles,” said Ms De Luise.