The price crisis pushes Italian beaches to austerity

The rising cost of living crisis has made its way to the beaches in Italy. After a winter of austerity, many are preparing to face rising holiday costs, with privately run beaches across Italy raising their summer prices and some businesses charging more than a month’s rent for a dip in the sea.

A recent survey conducted by the consumer rights association Altroconsumo found that a number of beach establishments across Italy, run by private companies, will charge an increase in fees to their visitors during peak week, to 18 percent. July 31 to August 6.

Beaches that charge entrance fees to their visitors, and which are equipped with a large number of striped umbrellas, rectangular sun loungers, along with a range of other facilities and amenities, have become common throughout the Italian peninsula, where the government has rented about 50 percent of the country’s sandy beaches to companies especially.

The Italian beaches, which are about 7,500 kilometers long, are public property. Although the state cannot sell the land, public authorities can award individuals with long-term concession contracts – the sector is worth about € 15 billion (£ 12.9 billion) a year – as Nomisma Consulting explains.

These licenses are usually controlled by families and passed on from one generation to the next. But in February, the Italian government announced plans to promote competition for beach facility management contracts, to be implemented from 2024, after receiving repeated requests from the European Commission for contracts to be signed.

Because these beaches are equipped with restaurants, locker rooms and showers, and even children’s playgrounds, most Italians prefer the convenience of private pools with appropriate amenities, rather than going to the more economical public beaches.

But for those who want to spend the summer on the free beaches, it is not an easy thing to find a beach that is not occupied by an army of parasols and excessive fees to use.

Immobiliare.it, Italy’s leading real estate online platform, has estimated that a typical four-week beach holiday in Alassio, the popular summer destination in the north of the country, could cost around € 1,300, twice the average rent for a small apartment in the same area, which It is about 740 euros.

In the southern coastal town of Gallipoli, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is 363 euros, compared to 700 euros to spend a month on its beaches and rent chairs and umbrellas.

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According to research conducted by the “Altro Conciomo” association, the Italian regions with the largest number of private beaches, namely Liguera and Emilia-Romagna in the north and Campania in the south, have local authorities covering about 70 percent of their sandy beaches. rent. to individuals.

The environmental association Legambiente argues the problem is that there is no state-level rule restricting the beach areas that the government can lease to a private individual. Decisions therefore fall back to local governments, which are often based on their political ambitions.

In Southern Apulia, for example, a regional law passed in 2006 does not allow more than 40 percent of beaches to be leased to private individuals, with 60 percent remaining for public use.

The Italian Ministry of Health warned the population last Tuesday that a third heat wave is coming, which will be the hottest this year. Sixteen cities have been placed in red or yellow on warning, including Bologna and Turin, where temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius or more.

At a time when temperatures are starting to rise and children are bored with the atmosphere of the cities, Italian families who have planned their summer holidays are facing impossible costs.

But while Italians said they expected a rise in holiday prices this year due to the general rise in the cost of living, including electricity and gas, more than half of the people surveyed confirmed they were not on an improvement in services do not wait.

On the other hand, critics have raised the issue of low rents that the government receives from individuals, with about 21,581 people out of 26,689 paying the state of 2,500 euros a year to rent a place off the beach – a very modest number compared to the fees charged to its visitors.

Even Italian businessman Flavio Briatore, former partial owner of Queens Park Rangers Football Club in London, argued in an interview with Corriere Della Sera that state fees should be increased on private beaches.

Briatore, whose beach club Twiga has a daily entrance fee of 1,000 euros, admits that the state should not charge an annual fee of less than 100,000 euros and not just the 17,169 euros it pays each year to get its license in to maintain.

Since early June, Italians have started using social media to express their frustration and dissatisfaction with these illogical tariffs.

Italian independent journalist Alessio Toraza called for his contribution to a ban on all private beaches, “and to keep only the free beaches open to people,” saying: “Enough of the concessions and facilities that contributed to the destruction of the coast. “

One social media user tweeted on his Twitter account, “These increases are false and make excuses for war and inflation. The government must intervene …”, while another user asked for licenses to be revoked, saying that “the beaches and sea water is a public good. ” For everyone “.

Posted in The Independent on June 24, 2022

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