Sicily Willing to Help Pay For You to Visit

When Italy opens back up for tourists, Sicily wants your business.

Like, really wants your business.

The southern Italian island has announced it will pay for half of tourists’ flight costs and a third of their hotel bill in order to lure visitors back to the popular destination once restrictions from the coronavirus are lifted. And if that’s not enough, Sicily will also comp tickets to many of its historical sites.

Italy has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the world from the effects of COVID-19 and closed its doors to tourists on March 10. Overall, the entire country gleans 13 percent of its gross domestic product from tourism and Sicily says it has lost almost 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion USD) without tourists.

Of course, any tourism is still way off. Italy is in the midst of a slow re-opening, with restaurants given the OK to start takeout service beginning May 4, followed by manufacturing and construction. Retail stores and museums will open on May 18, and restaurants can offer dine-in sit-down service starting June 1 so long as people wear face masks.

The Sicilian regional government says it has 50 million euros ($54.9 million USD) set aside just for such an emergency. That pales in comparison to the loss of 1 billion euros—and counting—but it’s a start. The logic being, make the initial investment to lure the tourists and hope they spend like sailors on shore leave.

So how is this going to work? When Italy can start welcoming tourists again, visitors who book plans to visit the island can go on to download vouchers to retrieve the funds and offset their costs.

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