Everything is upside down. First, it was oil long paying "buyers" to take delivery of oil that nobody could store; now it's popular tourism destinations paying tourists to come visit.
It is only appropriate that the birthplace of the Italian mafia has come up with the tourism equivalent of the WTI deliverable contract: according to The Times, Sicily is offering to pay tourists half of their plane ticket, as well as a night at a hotel an attraction entry fees in a bid to encourage tourists to return.
Sicily, located off the south of Italy, most famous perhaps for giving the world the Cosa Nostra mafia, is attempting to lure foreign visitors back to the island after the lockdown ends on May 4. The offers, first reported by The Times, will be available on the island's tourism website. They include a free night at a hotel for every three, as well as museum and archaeological entry tickets. The Government will use €50 million to fund the scheme, with losses of €1 billion ($1.6 billion) reported from March and April.
Italy generates 13% of its GDP from tourism and is desperate to restart inbound tourism as soon as the country is reopened.
According to News.com, it's not the first time the island has offered cheap deals to entice people to visit. Last year, the towns of Mussomeli and Sambuca in Sicily offered houses for just $1.60 as local numbers dwindled. The catch was that new owners had to fork out up to $25,000 to renovate the houses within the first year of buying them.
The rest of Italy is also looking at ways to restart the tourism industry after being the hotspot of coronavirus in Europe. One region has even drawn up plans for tourists to use "plexiglass boxes" while relaxing on the beach to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Italy is not alone in a bid to reboot tourism following a total collapse in global travel: hotels elsewhere in the world are offering guests free upgrades and extra night to encourage them to stay, as coronavirus causes bookings to plummet.