The Italian Almanac

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happy tourists

Italian News - August 2

Culture and Tourism Minister Francesco Rutelli has asked the Italian public not to "betray" the nation by taking their summer holidays abroad. Rutelli, who is also deputy premier, made the call as part of a campaign to have Italy crowned the "world champion of tourism" once again.

In the 1980s Italy was the globe's most popular holiday destination, but the Bel Paese has slipped back to fifth place after recently being overtaken by China. Rutelli claimed Italy is the best place to go for "beautiful holidays" and said the government is aiming to win back the top spot over the next 10 years.

Rutelli also has plans for those who do not heed his advice and fly off to foreign locations. He wants them to tell the government what made them reject their homeland, by sending messages to a new website, www.turistiprotagonisti.it.

"We must have the humility to let people tell us what we have to learn," he explained. "We want to know why they went abroad. What was better there?". The idea is that the national tourism system can use this information to identity and rectify its weak points, and help the nation's mountains, seaside resorts, culture, history and art make tourism the economy's driving force.