sabato 24 agosto 2019

Is Your Town Nearing Extinction? Try Turning It Into a Resort

Is Your Town Nearing Extinction? Try Turning It Into a Resort
Welcome to the world of alberghi diffusi, where tiny villages are going all-in on tourism to save themselves.
By Nikki Ekstein

Roughly 2,500 villages in Italy and almost 3,000 in Spain are at risk of becoming ghost towns. In Japan, 8 million or so buildings sit vacant. As better jobs and modern lifestyles lure young people to cities, what happens to the crumbling hamlets they leave behind?

A few aspiring hoteliers are fighting brain drain and rural flight by turning abandoned buildings in their villages into hospitality hubs. The Italians even have a name for these towns-turned-resorts: alberghi diffusi, or “scattered hotels.”

Giancarlo Dall’Ara, an Italian hotelier and tourism marketing professor, set the first and only standards for these accommodations in 2012, when he created the National Association of Alberghi Diffusi. He penned a manifesto identifying their core components: They cannot occupy new structures, the scattered buildings that make them up should be no more than 500 meters apart, and they must contribute to sustainable socioeconomic development. They must also act more like hotels than Airbnbs, with clearly marked reception areas, hot breakfasts, and other amenities. According to Dall’Ara, the concept should be able to stem depopulation and create jobs, alleviating the immediate crises facing many of these fading rural communities. “This is an emergency,” he says. In some places, entire villages have been put up for sale. Towns in the Jura region of France or Galicia in Spain can be had for as little as €150,000 ($175,000), the way of life there having effectively ended.
Dall’Ara estimates there are roughly 110 alberghi diffusi in Italy, up from about 20 in 2008. The Airbnb revolution has inadvertently contributed to the rise of this sort of accommodation. The home-sharing platform has exposed travelers to off-the-beaten-path destinations where large hotels have yet to arrive and fueled the rise of so-called authenticity seekers.
“Thanks to Airbnb and thanks to the fact that travelers care more about sustainability now, this idea of ‘living like a local’ feels current,” Dall’Ara says.

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