Italians dream of South-east Asia travel, await foreign tourists

Many young couples, for example, like to spend their honeymoon in South-east Asia.
Many young couples, for example, like to spend their honeymoon in South-east Asia.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

VICENZA - A charming Renaissance city famous for its beautiful white villas, Vicenza is also a wealthy business centre in northern Italy where travel is one of the passions of its residents.

Many young couples, for example, like to spend their honeymoon in South-east Asia.

"I would love to visit South-east Asia, for the food, the culture, the natural beauty, the cities," Mr Marco Santelia, a 28-year-old from Naples, told The Straits Times.

Singapore has started vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) for travellers from 10 countries including Italy, the United States, Britain, Spain, Denmark and Brunei.

As all of them except Brunei have also opened up to those coming from Singapore, travellers can fly between the countries without having to quarantine on either side.

Laura, the owner of a newsstand in Vicenza, said: "Tourists from Asia and other parts of the world are a blessing for business. And they're welcome in Vicenza."

Not far from the newsstand, Ms Valentina Casanova, a student of art and new technologies in Milan, said: "I would love to travel to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia to discover their culture, food, lifestyle, nature. And of course, I would visit museums and art galleries!"

After the long months of tourism blockade caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, cars with Swiss and German licence plates now drive through the city, and the chatter of French families fill the streets.

Mr Daniele Favaretto, owner of a tobacco shop in Venice, said "there's only hit-and-run tourism for now". Such tourists arrive in the morning and generally leave before nightfall.

"We don't see Asians, Arabs, or Americans anymore. Hopefully, extra-EU tourism will pick up in the coming months. Many Americans have booked hotels for November, and haven't cancelled for the moment".

Tourists can now find hotels at lower prices than in pre-pandemic years, and all cities and places like restaurants and museums are much less crowded.

Practically everything is open, noted Mr Roland Margesin, general manager of the Laurin Hotel in popular Bolzano city in the Alps mountains.

"Travellers from Singapore can enjoy the city 100 per cent. Museums, restaurants, stores are waiting for them. And they can come safely: almost everyone is vaccinated in Italy," he said.

It is mandatory to wear masks indoors, and outdoors too if the venues are very crowded.

According to Ms Maddalena Monge, a communications expert based in Milan, "Singapore and South-east Asia can offer so much to Italian travellers: culture, beautiful landscapes, food, nature.

She added: "I used to visit Singapore often when I lived in Doha.. But Italy has so much to offer to Singaporean travellers too".