Conflicting headlines today on tourism which everyone here seems to be beginning to believe should be a no brainer way of the country digging its way out of the recessionary hole it is in. The Labour Ministry report loads of jobs are available in the sector for seasonal work 57,000 of which are here in the south. So that is a hurrah. The bad news is that 2012 saw a 6% decline in visitors from abroad while total worldwide international tourism increased substantially and this year to date it has fallen 7%. So that is an oh.
The wise men of the tourist industry have had a big meeting in Rome to “discuss” what needs to be done and have come out as always with a series of “initiatives” that the government, the tourist boards etc should undertake in order to try to catch up with Spain where visitor numbers are booming. Of course the elephant in the room ( where did that expression come from ?) that nobody talks about is the expense of holidaying in Italy. Spain is booming because it has lowered it’s prices, Greece will have a better year because it has started to and Italy won’t until it does. €64 for 4 ice creams stories don’t help !
The other big issue is with those 57,000 jobs as they are all black economy jobs. We have friends here whose kids have left school and are job hunting. There are plenty of jobs for seasonal work and luckily they are mainly girls as all the ads for restaurants say , “young attractive girl no more than 25 years old” now I thought there were EU Laws about that ? Anyway they bowl up and either the job is €300 ( $230, £260) a month cash in hand and (remember there is almost no tipping here as the cover charge is the tip ) for 7 days a week lunch shift and evening shift plus cleaning the restaurant at the end of the evening shift or the new wheeze is ” we will try you for 2 weeks while you work for nothing but tips and then if we like you we might keep you ” Two weeks later the young girl sees an ad for her job appear and a queue of girls waiting. So for the summer the owner gets a free workforce. To add insult to injury the tax people issued the average amount of all the declarations of income for 2011 today and bars and restaurants declared an average turnover in 2011 of just €18,000 . Hmmm ?
Italian love songs with kind of heavy background singers is what I thought I might feature this week.
I really found Mola di Bari to be a great spot yesterday but then I am a sucker for working towns rather than some of the more Disneyland type places. I am heading back there on Wednesday to see the big fish market . It should be good value for money at the moment as it clearly came to the notice of the authorities. So far in the last two months they have been raided by the Finance boys who checked they were giving receipts, the weights and measure lads who took all the scales away ( that isn’t a pun on the fish) and checked them, the fishery police who found fish smaller than allowed by EU law and the coast guard who didn’t find anything. So I expect to get my fish at the right price, at the right weight and the right size. Then I can beetle off to that little bar I found and enjoy a couple of ales at the right price too. Here is the big piazza there.
So Paradiso revisited