'Time to book holidays in Italy': tourism to resume from mid-May

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi says travel passes will be introduced this month

epa09171031 Tourists gather at the Miracle square and the leaning tower of Pisa on the 01 May, day of the reopening of national Museum and other activities after the second wave of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, in Pisa, Italy, 01 May  2021. Some of COVID-19 restrictions have been eased in most of Italy since 26 April.  EPA/FABIO MUZZI
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Italy will open for tourism from mid-May, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said. His message to prospective visitors as that "the time has come to book your holidays".

Mr Draghi said Italy would move ahead of the EU in introducing its own travel pass to resume tourism after the pandemic.

"Let us not wait until mid-June for the EU pass," Mr Draghi said. "In mid-May tourists can have the Italian pass ... so the time has come to book your holidays in Italy."

He said: "The world longs to travel here. The pandemic has forced us to close down temporarily. But Italy is ready to welcome back the world."

Mr Draghi is under pressure to revive a tourist industry that accounts for 13 per cent of Italy's economic output, but which suffered a collapse last year as arrivals plunged by three quarters.

Italy has the highest Covid-19 death toll in the EU, with more than 120,000 fatalities recorded, and travel between Italian regions was restricted for much of the year.

But with case numbers falling, travel within the country will be permitted by an Italian green pass, which Mr Draghi said would be available to tourists.

It was not clear whether entry restrictions, which require tourists from the rest of Europe to isolate for five days upon arrival, will be lifted.

The EU's health pass scheme will allow people to prove that they have either been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from Covid-19 in the previous 180 days.

EU members will be required to accept vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, such as the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Countries may also choose to accept other vaccines not approved by EU regulators, such as Russia's Sputnik V.

UK poised to announce its summer travel 'green list'

Hopes that Britons will be able to travel to Europe also increased on Monday after the EU recommended easing restrictions in favour of countries with a "good epidemiological situation".

Prospective British tourists are awaiting the UK government's announcement of which countries will be on the green list when international travel resumes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there would be some opening up of international travel from May 17.

After a meeting of G20 tourism ministers, Mr Draghi said it was important to provide clear, simple rules to tourists.

Italy is the president of the G20 this year and chaired Tuesday's meeting, which looked at ways of recovering from the coronavirus.

International tourist arrivals dropped 73 per cent globally in 2020, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The G20 ministers said that "the resumption of travel and tourism was crucial for global economic recovery".

They said the health crisis had presented an "opportunity to rethink tourism" and put it on a sustainable footing.

Their statement did not refer specifically to vaccine passports, but said ministers wanted to support and co-ordinate "safe international mobility initiatives".

Countries around the world are looking at ways for people to show they have had vaccinations to allow them to travel freely.

But airports, border agencies and airlines fear there will be no clear global standard.

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