Some regions of Italy are willing to try anything to get tourists back into the country. One Italian village has even gone so far as to offer visitors free seven nights stay at one of their many vacation villas.
The region of Molise is no stranger to extraordinary advertising tactics. They first made headlines when news broke Molise was offering people $770 a month for three years to move to the area. This was done to combat the increasing population drop in the area. One article stated that Molise lost over 9,000 residents since 2014.
Molise is currently Italy’s second smallest in population and size. Despite this, Molise was named by the New York Times as one of the top 52 places to visit in 2020. This was, of course, before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe.
The free vacation offer was good for 40 free stays in the village of San Giovanni in Galdo. The offer runs from July 4 to October 3, with two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and four-bedroom villas available.
Local activist Enzo Luongo said, ”These are beautiful but depopulated villages that don’t have any tourist accommodation, to begin with, so we thought: how can we help revive our historic villages, while also encouraging visitors during these difficult times when tourism is at an all-time low?”
The campaign was launched on June 12, and since that time, over 5,000 people have applied to visit the area.
The local association Amici del Morrutto, who established the offered, said the number of applications was like, “An enormous hug, a gigantic display of affection from the whole world.”
Officials were heartened by the overwhelming response and hope other towns in Molise will begin offering the same incentive. Meanwhile, Amici del Morrutto plan to meet with other mayors to create a network of free accommodations.
Molise has their work cut out for them as they wade through all the potential visitors, but hopefully, this will be a new start for this shrinking region.