This new European law called “Bolkestein,” from the name of the politician who sponsored it, will take away the beach resorts from their actual owners at the end of their contract, causing the destruction of this traditional and successful system of tourism unlike anywhere else in the world.
This is a functioning system of friendly competition between more than 30.000 families working in various kinds of beach-tourism activities. All highlight the local flavor and customs of their individual regions, offering their communities and their customers the opportunity to “breathe” a familiar atmosphere where the owners know all of their customers by name… a friendship built over time.
Each individual Italian beach resort maintains its individual tradition for many decades, in some cases a century, with generation after generation of the same family owners. It is exactly this reason why our tourist-families return year after year to the very same beach resort that for some is the same chosen by their parents and grandparents. This type of customer would never vacation anywhere else. At “their” beach, they consider themselves a part of the family. They look forward to the same people, the same service, the same food… home.
The Italian system of beach tourism is a “Made in Italy” that rather than be destroyed by being sold to the highest bidders (multinationals, foreign investors) should be promoted – not exported.
In this ever increasing global marketplace, the lessons that should be learned from the past are being ignored: small, unique markets are being swept away by giant supermarket chains where everything is standardized; personal relationships between buyer and seller no longer exist; sophisticated marketing determines what the seller wants to sell rather than what the buyer wants to buy; food, often of lower quality, is positioned on the shelves to augment profit more than value. Those who want to globalize Italian beach-tourism rather than stimulate it, don’t understand that they will destroy it in the process. Taking away all that already exists in this sector will render every beach the same – a stereotype where it may not be possible to tell in which region, or in which country, it is.
This Bolkenstein proposal that puts the current Italian beach-tourism system at risk is like watching a horror movie made especially for those who presently work in industry, those who have continued to contribute to the industry year after year, who provide personalized service to their customers and their communities, who observe the regulations and respect the environment, planning and often paying with their own money for projects the protect from and repair beach erosion.
It’s clear at this point that there are enormous economical interests behind these proposed auctions. For normal people like us that make a normal living from this work, that obessive interest just doesn’t make sense.
It is naïve for groups like the environmentalists to think once the auctions come to pass that all of the privately run beach resorts will become one great public beach. The reality more likely is that instead of finding “Bagni Ceriale”, “Bagni Royal,” “Bagni Vittoria,” etc., there will be huge beach-supermarkets in their place – huge structures to allow their new owners the profit they expect. And there will be no more public beaches. Otherwise, why would the multinationals be so interested in the beaches? Of course they will build on them. And it won’t be like today when acquiring permission to make any changes in existing structures is difficult at best, even to place removable bricks in the sand as a base for cabins. Some beach resort decks and cabins are still all made in wood, and everything is removed at the end of the season…
Will be the same in the future?
Of course not. Rest assured, the next owners, after the auctions, will build huge structures without any problem getting permission. After all, money talks, and multinationals have money.