Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world and gets over 44 million tourists a year. Tourism is estimated to generate revenue of £120 billion (RM600 billion) per year.
It’s a lucrative industry and one that needs protecting. So the last thing they need is a negative story that could drive visitors away.
Recently, 4 British tourists visited Rome and were forced to pay £54 (RM270) for four ice creams. Now I know Italian ice cream is supposed to be the best in the world but it isn’t THAT good.
Stunned, the group paid but later complained to an Italian newspaper and soon after the story made the front pages of many newspapers in the UK.
Mindful of the impact negative stories have had on other countries such as India where brutal gang rapes of female tourists have resulted in a 25% drop in arrivals, tourism officials were quick to react.
They got in touch with the tourists and invited them back to the city as guests of the mayor. This time they were flown to the city, met at the airport, given free accommodation at the luxury Jumeirah Grand Hotel – rooms from £500 (RM2,500) per night, free meals and free tours of the city.
They were treated like kings and shown around the Piazza Navona, Capitoline Museums and archeological remains of ancient Villas. And of course they stopped off at Harry’s Bar on the Via Veneto for a drink.
The response from quick thinking Italian tourism officials has turned a negative news story into a positive one and ensured the story did not escalate into something that could have had a detrimental effect on the lucrative tourism industry. Simple but effective. In the event of something similar happening to you, do you have a plan in place to do the same?