I reported some time ago that Puglia alongside many other regions this year has had a drop in tourists. June and July are now officially 30% lower in visitor numbers than last year and the spend and duration of stay is down too. This is caused by two things , the poor weather that all of Italy has had this year and being reliant on mainly domestic tourism the crisis that continues to envelop Italy with it it again back in recession.
Early estimates for August point to a worsening of the tourist numbers rather than any hoped for improvement. The weather to be fair has been somewhat better after some early August rain but with many companies foregoing their annual closure or shortening the time and with unemployment at 12% there was probably little hope for any improvement.
In times of crisis the Italians tend to look to government to solve their problems. All surveys over many years show that Italians actually like big government and see them as the people to sort those issues out. Of course what Italians mean is payouts, subsidies or compensation monies. But government especially the Regional has little or no money this year.
Enter the Director and head of the Puglia Regional Council one Onofio Intona by name. He like Jeremy Vine on his lunchtime talk shows ” Feels your pain” that is those in the tourism industry in Puglia. Immediately tourism heads go up . This looks promising is he going to dole out some cash they think.
Well no he hasn’t got any it is all tied up in paying wind and solar subsidies to Mafia owned businesses. No Intona has done what few politicians have bothered to do he has had a think about the problem and over an excellent lunch on the tax payer has come up with a solution that will mark him down in history .
” Let’s keep the beaches open through September and October” Intona intones.
Puglian beaches are mainly privately run. Lidos are required by law to open from the fourth Saturday in May until the second Saturday in September. Then they count their loot ( most of it black ) and depart after another tiring season. Intona says to make up the shortfall they just need to stay there longer. Mind you it is not so easy as all that anyway.
To achieve this simple aim which to be honest you might have thought the lido and hotel owners might have thought of if it was worthwhile, needs an awful lot of approvals. This is big government don’t forget. The Regional Finance Ministry has oversight of the beaches (though god knows why) so they must approve it. Then the ANCI the Association of Town Councils must all approve it. The Beach workers union must approve it. So too the Captains of all the Ports and Harbours around the Puglian coast. The Association of Hoteliers must have their say as too the coastal town councils. Seemed a simple idea didn’t it Mr Intona ?
However the real elephant in the room ( where did that expression come from and more to the point why am I using it ) is the weather. There is a perfectly good reason why the beaches close in early September. The weather apart from the odd hot spell is bloody awful in September and October. It is normally the start of the autumn monsoon in Puglia especially over the past few years. October often has 10 inches of rain and Scirocco storms. I remember a few years ago dining in shirtsleeves under the stars at midnight in Patras in Greece in late October. Then arriving back here the next day to an heady 9C at mid-day in Ostuni and that night the mercury dropped below freezing. Beaches were definitely not on the agenda.
So our own King Canute. Hold back the bad weather and save the Puglian tourist industry. Well done Sr. Intona.
Actually it seems poor King Canute has always had a bad press. In fact he was a very good King of England. Denmark and later Norway. He governed well and showed immense care for the peoples he looked after. It appears that actually what he was doing when he put his throne on an English beach was to show quite the opposite that he couldn’t hold back Mother Nature. Only God he said can control the tides. It was his was of showing his piety. But hey once the story got around a few English pubs and was covered by The Daily Mail it got a bit distorted.
Last night in the bar we had a wonky table and every time I moved my shingled body to another less comfortable position I knocked it and spilt some beer. Now I get forgiven for lots of things but spilling my wife’s beer is never one of them. Fix it she hissed so I did what we all do I stuck a Dreher beer mat under the table. But this morning I discovered that it is a mathematical problem and here is the solution
So you just move the table around by a quarter move at a time. Boy you learn a lot here don’t you