Rome, 29 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro issued a desperate plea for tourists to return to the lagoon city as soon as the virus restrictions are lifted.
“To anyone who has the possibility to travel in the coming months, I say: ‘Come to #Venice!’ You would help the world give a signal of #recovery starting from beauty and culture,” he tweeted.
Venice depends on tourism, but the industry has been brought to a standstill throughout Italy by lockdown measures imposed to combat the novel coronavirus.
But Venice was in trouble even before the outbreak of the epidemic in late February, as record flooding in November scared off many visitors to the city.
Brugnaro held a press conference in which he called on the central government for help, requesting an extension of unemployment benefits for workers in the tourism sector.
“Unfortunately we are facing a social bomb which has already been triggered,” the mayor told the Corriere della Sera newspaper before the conference.
Italy is currently closed off to travellers from abroad except those entering the country for work purposes, and it is unclear when the travel restrictions will be lifted.
The country is one of the worst affected by the pandemic, with nearly 27,000 deaths and almost 200,000 infections reported as of late Monday.