Saturday, May 12, 2012

Glamor on the Mediterranean

Ya gotta hand it to the Italians: no sooner do they crash a fancy boat but they get their folks to buy another one. You remember the Costa Concordia, no doubt. The house arrest of the skipper, Francesco Schettino, was just reconfirmed by a magistrate, while the investigation into crew members and company execs drags on. But that didn't stop the Costa Crosciere line (owned by Carnival Cruises, in case you forgot) from launching a fancy new replacement, the Costa Fascinosa, in Venice this morning. The president of the company told well-wishers that bookings are back to normal. The Fascinosa is every bit as large and luxurious (114,500 gross tons, 3,780 passengers) as its ill-fated class-mate, the Concordia.

Italy's tourism minister, Piero Gnudi, was on hand for the launch. He said that tourism can help Italy create 1.6 million jobs over the next decade. "In Italy we have many forms of tourism, and we need to strengthen them all," he said. "In recent years we have made the mistake of considering tourism as the Cinderella of the economy. We have invested little and lost market share."

Sounds like what I was saying on Crosscut as well as this very blog months and months ago.

Can you imagine what 1.6 million new jobs would mean for Italy, a country that can't even meet the Social Security payments for its own citizens? At least the Fincantiere shipyard in the northern Adriatic got 18 months of work out of the 500-million-euro ship's construction. I'm just a little wobbly on the name, selected by plebiscite on the company's website: Fascinosa (Fascinating, Glamorous) beat out Favoloso (Fabulous). My vote went for Inaffondabile (Unsinkable).

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