The pandemic leads the island tourist industry into a deep rethinking of Sardinia as a destination and of the way of promoting it. The challenge for the end of the crisis starts from Santa Teresa di Gallura; beaches, restaurants, accommodation facilities, a strong relationship with host communities: COVID-19 redesigns the rules of hospitality and pushes for tourism based on nature, environment, healthiness, slow times. Stefania Taras, the municipality councillor for Tourism, proposes the “Manifesto of the resilient Sardinia”. According to her, “this is the message: in Sardinia it is possible to have a safe and regenerating holiday”. The objective, which must be seized upon after too many hesitations, is that of “building a more careful model of tourism, one that enhances environment more”.
Social distancing on the beach and in the clubs, reorganisation of facilities and services, sanitisation, tourism is turned into an experience rather than impacting the life of the host communities. The first point of the post-pandemic manifesto says: “healthcare becomes the top priority”. “The end of the lockdown starts from Sardinia? Only if clear guarantees are provided; meanwhile, the Island needs to rethink and promote itself in a new way”; that’s the councillor’s appeal to the 150 Sardinian municipalities registered as tourist towns. “Tourism is our primary economic source, and it’s seriously threatened”, she affirms. The idea is “having a project and creating critical mass in confronting the Region and the central government, which will have to adopt extraordinary measures”, she says.
Numbers clearly show a social emergency. According to the Observatory on 2018 LLCs budgets of the National Council and Foundation of Accountants, the turnover of the sector in 2020 in Sardinia will have a 514 million euros collapse: 325 million euros for accommodation facilities and 189 for catering. The lockdown has been a necessary evil, but the damage has been huge.
Franco Mulas, Marriott Costa Smeralda’s area manager, sends a message charged with optimism through the interview given to the local newspaper “La Nuova Sardegna”: among other things, he affirms that the exclusive destination for holiday in luxury is “ready to come back in June”. In southern Sardinia, the after-emergency programme is called “Per”: it’s ethical, web-oriented, involves Cagliari and Villasimius, proposes neighbourly relations, solidarity and an ethical way of doing business as an alternative to the giants of e-commerce.
Scientists have a more cautious approach. “Transmissibility in the marine environment is excluded, but every forecast is premature” says Stefano Vella, physician, scientist and member of the technical-scientific committee supporting the Region. He believes that “we still need some months to make predictions, in April and May we will acquire the data to understand if the virus is really leaving”. According to Vella, “low population density helped Sardinia”; however, “we will have to live with it for a long time” and other precautions, such as social distancing and masks:so, making predictions “is rash”. He underlines that, among other things, there could be “a risk of reinfection; first, let’s knock down the virus”.