Portofino’s Mayor, Matteo Viacava, has implemented a controversial €375 fine on tourists for taking selfies in popular areas, claiming it leads to ‘anarchic chaos’ and traffic congestion. This decision has drawn international criticism, leading to a significant decrease in tourism and a potential risk to the town’s economy and reputation. Critics suggest that instead of punitive measures, the Mayor could better manage the issue by enhancing hospitality and providing clear guidance to tourists.
Portofino, Italy, 20th Jun 2023 – In an era when hospitality and warmth are as valued as the allure of the destination itself, Portofino, a mesmerising gem on the Italian Riviera, seems to be stepping back, led by its Mayor, Matteo Viacava. His surprising imposition of a hefty €375 fine for the simple act of taking a selfie in certain popular locales has triggered a global outcry and invited unwelcome attention to this ordinarily serene haven.
Rather than crafting a hospitable environment that could serve as a global model, Mayor Viacava has opted for punitive measures to address trivial issues like ‘traffic congestion’ caused by tourists stopping to take pictures. This decision, decried as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘uncultured’ by observers worldwide, has shown the Mayor’s limited understanding of hospitality, raising questions about his suitability to govern a tourist-dependent locale like Portofino.
Instead of levying unreasonable fines, the town could invest in a welcoming initiative: deploying hosts and hostesses to greet tourists, guide them to less crowded spots for photo opportunities, and provide them with useful information about local attractions, dining spots, swimming areas, and other tourist interests. This positive, proactive approach would not only solve the ‘congestion’ issue but also foster a sense of belonging among visitors, enhancing their overall experience.
Mayor Viacava would be better served learning from global best practices in hospitality and tourism management. Dialogue with local restaurant owners, who have long been grappling with the challenge of maintaining a high standard of hospitality amidst a workforce not entirely familiar with Portofino’s traditional cordiality, would be a more constructive use of his time.
The fall-out of Mayor Viacava’s decision has been swift and stark. Post the implementation of the selfie ban, Portofino has seen a staggering 50% drop in tourist footfall. It appears that visitors refuse to be herded like sheep, instead preferring destinations where they are not subjected to arbitrary rules.
In 2023, this is the most glaring absurdity we have come across. The management of a beautiful hamlet like Portofino requires a leader who understands not only the local nuances but also the expectations of global travellers. A city’s reputation, once tarnished, can take generations to recover. It’s high time Mayor Viacava reconsiders his approach and brings back the warmth and hospitality that Portofino is renowned for.
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