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TOURISM

Italy to cap cost of sunbeds in crackdown on private lidos

The Italian government approved plans on Monday to make the country's beaches cheaper and more accessible after the price of rental sunbeds and umbrellas soared last year.

Italy to cap cost of sunbeds in crackdown on private lidos
Vacationers sunbathe at a private beach near Santa Margherita Ligure, southern Genova. In future, prices of sunbeds could be capped for beachgoers. (Photo by OLIVIER MORIN / AFP)

Plans to guarantee a higher quality of beach services in Italy at regulated prices got the green light on Monday, February 15th, with unanimous approval of a draft law on the future of coastal tourism.

Lidos and other businesses occupying beaches will be more tightly regulated under new rules, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, with tighter criteria on everything from ease of access for the disabled to environmental impact, 

The cost of renting beach equipment, such as umbrellas and sunbeds, is also expected to be capped according to the draft proposal.

READ ALSO: Private lidos take up more than 40 percent of Italian beaches: report

New rules will promote “a fair ratio between rates and quality of service for everyone, including for the disabled,” reports the Ansa news agency, though no further information was immediately available about how prices may change.

The proposal came after consumer watchdogs correctly predicted that lidos would hike their prices in 2021 to make up for losses and cover extra costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research by consumer study institute IRCAF found that June 2021 prices to rent two loungers and an umbrella ranged from €10 per day on some Italian beaches to a staggering €50 on others.

A man sunbathing on the beach in Monterosso, Cinque Terre National Park, near La Spezia, nortwestern Italy. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

The draft law includes new rules intended to prevent the monopolisation of large swathes of sandy areas and free up Italy’s increasingly privatised beaches.

It envisages “an adequate balance between state-owned areas and free or equipped free areas”.

There will be a new limit on how many lidos each individual can own, and a requirement for future lido owners to ensure free access to the beach.

A report by environmental association Legambiente last year warned that it’s getting harder to find a spot to sunbathe for free, as nearly 43 percent of Italy’s sandy beaches are now occupied by private lidos, campsites, resorts or other businesses.

READ ALSO: 

In some parts of Italy as much as 70 percent of sandy coast is taken up by lidos and other concessions, while the so-called Romagna Riviera, the stretch of the Adriatic Coast around Rimini, is now almost impossible to access for free with 90 percent of beaches in Rimini in private hands and 100 percent in Gatteo.

From January 1st, 2024, tenders will reportedly open for those hoping to run lidos on Italy’s beaches based on new criteria.

More parties will be able to apply, including micro-businesses and third-sector organisations.

Those who have had this type of business as their only source of income in the previous five years will be given first right of refusal in the tenders.

The plans are expected to be passed into law within the next six months, according to Italian media reports.

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ENVIRONMENT

Tunisia to return illegally imported waste to Italy

Italy will take back some 120,000 tonnes of household waste sent to Tunisia last year, the north African country's environment ministry said.

Tunisia to return illegally imported waste to Italy

Tunisia is to return more than 280 containers of waste illegally imported from Italy in 2020 by a Tunisian company that falsely claimed that the household waste — barred from import under Tunisia law — was in fact plastic scrap to be recycled.

The importation had sparked widespread anger, resulting in protests in Tunisia as people demanded that Italy take back its refuse.

READ ALSO: Pollution levels in Italy ‘persistently’ break EU law, court rules

The waste containers were brought in from the Campania region in southern Italy and are currently being stored at a port in the Tunisian city of Sousse.

A deal was signed on Friday between the two countries to return the waste to Italy, its country of origin, the Tunisian environment ministry said Monday.

According to the deal, 213 containers stored at the port of Sousse will initially be returned, with the first ship set to carry the waste to Italy on Saturday.

Consultations are ongoing over the fate of the remaining waste containers stored in Sousse, which were damaged in a fire in December.

Some 26 people are being prosecuted over their alleged involvement in illegally importing the waste.

The manager of the import firm is at large, after the company signed a deal worth five million euros to dispose of up to 120,000 tonnes.

In December 2021, Tunisia’s environment minister was arrested following the attempted importation of household and hospital waste from Italy.

The case shines a spotlight on the global trade in waste, which has grown despite stricter regulations aimed at preventing rich countries from dumping their hazardous refuse on poorer nations.

Tunisian media reported that the Italian authorities in early 2021 had blocked the export from Campania of another 600 containers of waste destined to be incinerated at a cement factory in Tunisia.

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