Italy's Island Systems: Competitiveness in the Mediterranean Context

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Abstract

From ancient times, the Mediterranean basin has connected peoples from different countries, facilitating both commercial and cultural exchanges. Within the Mediterranean basin, both large and small islands have always been transit and temporary stopping places, thereby promoting trade and acting as sorting centers for goods and knowledge. Today, these territories, which differ in size, population and economic and cultural activities, are the core of new exchanges and activities, among which tourism stands out. The Mediterranean basin has more than 100 islands belonging to six states that are members of the European Union (EU). However, despite the diversity and uniqueness of each island, these territories share the same permanent handicaps as a result of their insularity. This condition has been recognized by the EU as both a geo-cultural factor and a permanent handicap because of additional constraints on competitiveness in the areas concerned and is seen as the main reason for the formulation of specific policies addressed to these territories. Awareness of such a condition has developed recently, dating back to the end of the last century, and has led to the insular areas being identified as regions ‘which suffer from severe or permanent natural or demographic handicaps’ for which it is necessary to adopt specific measures aiming to ‘reduce disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favored regions’. In contrast to these difficulties, Mediterranean islands experience a strong tourist demand that ensures high levels of tourism consumption with positive effects on local employment and production. Not only does tourism in islands tend to be central for the local economy, it is also the principal factor of economic, environmental and social imbalances. However, the islands cannot all be placed at the same stage of tourism development (Butler 1980), because in the Mediterranean destinations coexist at various stages of maturity. This makes it impossible to formulate strategic guidelines of sustainable development that are valid and generally applicable in all islands (Baldacchino, 2006; Fairbairn, 2007). It is, therefore, necessary to start from a comparative analysis of tourism in the islands to develop the most appropriate tourism policies for the territory concerned.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteTourism in the Mediterranean Sea : an Italian perspective
Pagine309-319
Numero di pagine11
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2021

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