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CHAPTER 1 · INTRODUCTION – THE UNIQUE EVOLUTION OF TOURISM AS ‘BUSINES S’

Case 1.2

The Bay of Naples – a case of changing tourists

Widely thought of as the most beautiful coastline in Italy, the famous Bay of Naples lies on the west coast and is home to some of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. The small town of Sorrento is located on the southern arm of the bay, and is rapidly becoming as popular as its more renowned neighbours. The most well-known of these is the city of Naples, which has catered for domestic tourists for centuries, and which, with its now diminishing reputation for crime and violence, is enjoying a successful and growing international tourism industry. The city itself, as well as the entire region, is steeped in history, culture and stunning architecture, and boasts friendly people, great cuisine and a warm climate, making it a popular destination for holiday-makers. To the right of the city, the bay is overlooked by one of the most famous volcanoes in the world, Mount Vesuvius, the last active volcano on mainland Europe. Her most recent eruption was in 1944, but the most famous explosion was in AD 79, when the nearby Roman city of Pompeii was covered and destroyed by lava and ash. Located midway between Naples and Sorrento, Pompeii has been largely uncovered and restored and is now one of the most famous historical sights of Italy. Leaving the bay behind and heading south along the beautiful Amalfi coast, the town of Salerno and the ancient Greek ruins of Paestum have fascinated the more adventurous traveller for centuries. At one point, Salerno was a most significant city, more so than Naples, and still houses a busy port and a spectacular Norman cathedral. A former Greek Colony, Paestum is made up of numerous magnificent and wellpreserved temples and can tell the story of its history as far back as 600 BC. In addition to these mainland attractions, the Bay of Naples is also home to three rocky island retreats: Procida, Ischia and Capri, the latter being the world-renowned holiday destination of many rich and famous people. A trip to these islands is well worth it, as ‘the voyage across an aquamarine sea to experience their breathtaking loveliness is in itself a dream’ (Leech and Shales, 2003). Once attached to the Sorrentine peninsula, Capri is the more developed and commercial of the islands, however, no less enchanting for it. The more allocentric tourists may enjoy the walks and wildlife of the less-visited Procida. Standing between these contrasts of old and new is the town of Sorrento. Sorrento combines historical elements with modern aspects of tourism. As with the rest of Italy, the Bay of Naples is home to impressive museums, theatres, opera houses and cathedrals. Although on a smaller scale, Sorrento encapsulates all of these, and its stylish elegance has been attracting visitors for over 2500 years (Leech and Shales, 2003). The striking buildings are now surrounded with modern comfortable hotels and first-class restaurants, creating an all-encompassing holiday experience as well as being an ideal starting point and base for visiting all the surrounding areas. Tourism is now the most important industry in the region. The people of the area realised this potential a long time ago, and this has resulted in an adequate transport infrastructure in Sorrento. The islands, bay and coastline beyond are all joined by reliable air, road, rail and sea links, enabling tourists to move easily within the region. As well as being the location of arguably the first holiday homes, this cluster of resorts has long been a destination of the rich and famous. In the nineteenth century Felix Mendelssohn, the composer, and Oscar Wilde, the playwright, spent holidays on Capri. Enrico Caruso returned from his spectacular worldwide success to stay in Sorrento, and W.H. Auden, the poet, became a resident of Ischia. Gracie Fields, the singer, and Noel Coward, the dramatist, composer and actor, were regular visitors to Capri. More recently, Tom Cruise, John Belushi and Duran Duran have holidayed on Capri. The area thus remains a destination for the rich and famous. Capri, with a population of 12,000, currently has four 5-star hotels. Today’s visitor, however, is more typically a tourist making an excursion from a resort on the mainland such as Naples or Sorrento. At the height of the season the island currently receives 10,000 visitors a day, and these numbers greatly exceed the number of hotel residents.
Source: Various

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