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The Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini last Wednesday anticipated to the Senate the initiatives that his ministry will promote in favour of the tourism sector to counter the crisis triggered by the pandemic. The minister, exposing the critical issues that all operators in the industry are facing, spoke of a state of "extra-crisis" - this is the term used - from which it will not be easy to get out, despite the extraordinary measures coming. The feeling of mistrust and prudent behaviour will remain even at the end of the health emergency and will drag on for an unforeseeable length of time. The recovery of the tourism sector, as well as that of cultural activities, including the enjoyment of places of culture in general, will inevitably be slower than in other areas.

In the coming days, the government will explain in detail the economic measures. Still, Minister Franceschini wanted to reassure the Italians saying that "There will be holidays, but they will be different. There will be Italian holidays".

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Let's forget exotic destinations, intercontinental travel, no tours of European capitals and excursions to the borders of the world. We are far from all this. But distance, you know, helps to look at things from a different perspective and to focus better on what surrounds us.

We have the opportunity to rethink the way we move around the planet and become more aware of the impact our explorations have on local economies and the environment.

Three suggestions that, even if accepted in this period of forced stop, could change the way we travel forever:

1.    Know your country

What better opportunity to visit the museum from which we passed indifferently every morning to go to work or school. A walk through the streets of the village where we went to visit relatives could prove to be up to the most trendy and hipster neighbourhoods that we would have searched hard in European cities.

2.    Adopt the "small and simple" paradigm

Reducing our travel footprint seems an ambitious goal, but there are many small things we can do to achieve it. When choosing accommodation, for example, or transportation, keep in mind that "the smaller and simpler the better". Staying in small hostels, inns, or holiday homes can contribute significantly to the economy of the place that hosts us. Also, the choice of the means of transport with which we move can have positive impacts; it is useful to optimize the routes to shorten the distances. In this way we can choose the most proportionate to our needs, preferring walking, cycling or public transport. We will experience the place that hosts us as if we were locals.

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3.    Rely on local guides

Do-it-yourself is an ingrained habit for tourists and travellers, especially in the low-cost sector. It could be time to re-evaluate guided tours without giving up your autonomy. Relying on local, professional or improvised guides, forming small groups of visitors, can be an opportunity to discover unusual places and customs as well as to get to know them. Dining in a hidden restaurant, not indicated on the guides, or drinking a cocktail in the bar that goes unnoticed, but is a cult meeting place for the local community, enriches our travel experience and contributes to the local micro-economy.

Who knows when we'll be able to travel again. Whether our first destination is the city we live in, the beach or the mountain trail a few kilometres from home, let's remember that travel is no excuse to waste money or to send our ethical and environmental standards on vacation.


Photo credits: StockSnap from Pixabay