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We plan to trigger a new flow of “experiential tourism”

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Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy
Image Credit: Provided

Italy was one of the hardest hit when the effects of the pandemic were first felt by the world last year, but has since rebounded superbly. Given that Italy attracts a lot of tourists from the UAE, how ready is the country to revive tourism and what precautions are in place?

Indeed, last year Italy was the first Western country to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and, thanks to the measures adopted by our government which also paved the way for the containment policies of other countries. , we have succeeded in largely controlling the epidemic. by summer. Given the importance tourism plays in our bilateral relations, and in recognition of the effective anti-Covid measures adopted by the government of the United Arab Emirates, tourists from the United Arab Emirates have been allowed to travel to Italy on the se – saying “tested by Covid flights” on June 1 of this year. With over 73% of the eligible Italian population fully vaccinated and all necessary safeguards in place, Italy has successfully reopened shops, theaters, restaurants, cinemas and museums for tourists to enjoy. a return to a largely normal way of life.

How did the Italian consulate help Italian residents here in the United Arab Emirates during the pandemic months?

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented and sudden challenges to the entire Italian public administration, both in Italy and abroad, as all public administrations have had to rethink and reinvent different ways of delivering assistance to their compatriots. Since the very first phase of the pandemic under my predecessor, this Consulate General has had to quickly strike a balance between the need, on the one hand, to ensure the continuity of the provision of essential consular services and, on the other hand, to safeguard the health of our employees and customers, in strict compliance with the anti-Covid regulations introduced by Italy and the United Arab Emirates.

Therefore, the pandemic has catalyzed the digitization of consular services, an increasing number of which are now available online, but has also often required a transfer of human resources to emergency consular assistance tasks in order to help affected citizens. by the Covid-19. and in difficult situations for different reasons. In this regard, I would like to salute the extraordinary work accomplished by the staff of the Consulate.

The Italian pavilion will be one of the most visited places at Dubai Expo 2020. What are the attractions that the pavilion has lined up?

A number of media have anticipated the “once in a lifetime experience” that visitors will enjoy at the Italy Pavilion, with its architecture providing a creative and highly innovative presentation of our pavilion’s key theme “The beauty that connects people ”, Where beauty is conceived as a skill, an innovation and a vector of knowledge.

As the Commissioner General for Italy at Expo 2020, Paolo Glisenti, who heads the office responsible for organizing and implementing my country’s participation in the world event, the pavilion of the He Italy will be a hub of innovation with a structure inspired by the most advanced elements of sustainability and circular economy demonstrating the height of Italian ingenuity.

The Pavilion’s exhibition route will take the visitor on a spectacular journey through the peninsula through storytelling conceived by Oscar-winning Italian director Gabriele Salvatores. At the start of the awe-inspiring journey, visitors will bask in the beauty of the most beautiful Italian landscapes, then move on to narrative architectures that express the talents, skill and beauty of Italy: from cinema to theater, landscapes to innovative companies, from cutting-edge technologies to sustainability. The Pavilion aims to highlight the importance of history, tradition and memory to spark innovation and creativity, while paying homage to the marine peoples who have populated the Mediterranean basin throughout history. Let us remember that Italy has always been a bridge, especially with the Mediterranean and the Arab and Middle Eastern world, which have nourished our culture and shaped a common cultural heritage. During the semester, the Italian pavilion will host hundreds of very interesting events.

How much will an event like the Dubai Expo 2020 play to help boost Italy’s tourism quotient here in the UAE and the Middle East?

Dubai Expo 2020 will be the first major global event after the pandemic and, therefore, it will be a great opportunity to revive international relations between countries and peoples. For Italy, this will undoubtedly be a great opportunity for the internationalization of our economic system, the revival of our exports and the attraction of direct investments also towards our small and medium-sized enterprises and innovative start-ups.

Regarding the tourism sector more specifically, the Italian Pavilion will highlight our excellence not only at the national level, but also at the regional level. With Italian regions playing an important role as full partners of Expo 2020, visitors will have the opportunity to discover lesser-known, but no less extraordinarily beautiful and culturally rich territorial identities, across Italy, which definitely worth a visit. Along with a more traditional form of tourism, we plan to trigger a new flow of ‘experiential tourism’ where people want to ‘experience’ Italy and its regions by engaging with our history, our people, our unique culture, food and environment.

How has the lockdown affected the trade balance between Italy and the United Arab Emirates?

Italy is highly regarded in the United Arab Emirates because it is synonymous with culture, art, fashion refinement, design, technology and high quality food. It is also thanks to the work of the Italian entrepreneurial community in the United Arab Emirates, which is made up of more than 600 companies, including those operating through local agents. Despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic, the Italian Trade Agency in Dubai, in close cooperation with the Italian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Italian Consulate General in Dubai, continued to facilitate business opportunities for Italian companies through the organization of business missions and participation in the most important fairs. Despite the slowdown in world trade caused by the pandemic, in 2020 Italy became the UAE’s largest trading partner in terms of total bilateral trade and the second largest trading partner in terms of exports to the United Arab Emirates (among Member States of the European Union). We are pleased that the first quarter of 2021 confirmed such a positive trend with a 43.44% increase in total trade with the United Arab Emirates.


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