Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Trends in Travel – Carbon Footprint Tourism

Although the 2013 World Cycling Championships in Tuscany were a success in terms of attendance (in fact finding a hotel in Florence with availability during that week was nearly impossible) it seems that from a commercial point of view the results were rather disappointing. The figures just out reveal that sales went DOWN by up to 50%!

This means that all the additional people who came for the race didn't buy much, and since the locals were (for the most part) kept out of the participating cities due to traffic closures, stores suffered losses. Unfortunately, this outcome is a sign of our times. Here in Italy they have coined a term for it: “turismo mordi e fuggi” (literally, bite and run). In general, tourists are staying fewer days and spending less and less during their visits - both in terms of shopping and services. Travelling on a shoestring is on the rise and those merchants who have invented strategies to combat the new phenomenon are doing better than the others. Just take a look around at all the panini venues, selling cheap, quick alternatives to a sit down lunch, or those shops and stands filled with trivial gadgets (NOT Made in Italy and often counterfeit) that are cropping up like mushrooms.

The widespread instability of the global economy is forcing commerce to change worldwide, but the result is rather depressing. Everyday there are fewer places where you can find good quality, reasonably priced products. The high-end goods (for which Italy in particular is famous) are becoming totally out of reach for the middle class customer. Today, buying a well-known designer brand is no longer an option for many who just a few years ago could afford to “splurge”, even if only once in a while, on some of these products. Yet, for the most part, the alternative is to have to purchase things that are of significantly inferior quality – and still feel like you are probably over-paying for what you are getting. So, what’s the result? Buy less, spend less, and wait for better times (or sales!)

As we cut out the superfluous from our spending, those who work in the retail sector are feeling the brunt of it. Many people don’t want to eliminate travel from their lives, so they trim the excess in order to make it work. Rather than an expensive souvenir, they buy a small keepsake. That beautiful leather handbag they see in a shop window remains in its place, since in the end, “We can probably find the same thing for less, on sale, back home.”  - after all, we are globalized now. And thus, a growing number of tourists is simply leaving their footprint as they “pass through”. 

What solutions are available? Trying to defend Italian crafts and artisan production is one. There are still things here (even inexpensive ones) that cannot be found online or at the local mall back home. Italian officials should try to limit the sale of cheap (and fake) imported products that have nothing to do with Italy or its traditions which are beginning to flood the market. Merchants need to work harder to offer good quality at fair prices – no matter what they sell. Tourists should also be enlightened about the consequences of their “just passing through” behavior – because one of the main reasons that draws them to Italy is the old world charm of this beautiful country. Unless they too help us to defend it, we all risk losing a huge piece of the nation’s fabric – and that would really be a great shame.

1 comment:

  1. Another informative blog… Thank you for sharing it… Best of luck for further endeavor too.
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