High temperatures across southern Europe have increased the risk of fires and casualties occurring due to the extreme weather in Italy, with many airports shutting down and thousands of residents and tourists being evacuated.
According to Euronews, wildfires in the Italian island of Sicily have spread by strong winds, endangering the life of residents and holidaymakers in the region, which is widely popular for its tourism attractions.
In addition, many airports in the region have forcefully shut down in recent weeks, many of those threatened by nearby wildfires.
Palermo Airport, which also serves as the island’s capital was forced to close early last week, as three villages close to the hub were being captured by wildfires.
In addition, an accidental fire damaged a terminal building at Catania airport, which forced the airport to be partially shut, raising concerns about huge economic losses for tourism.
Soaring temperatures across the island have been recorded this summer, reaching the record temperatures of two summers ago. Catania registered 47.6 Celsius on Monday.
The local media has reported that firefighters have detected and distinguished large areas of the wildfires but those around the cities of Palermo, Messina and Catania remain active.
Three people have died in this region due to the inability to be evacuated while damages are also considerable as a 15th century church of Santa Maria di Gersu in Palermo was affected by flames. According to the local authorities, the wildfires have caused €260 million in damage.
“People cannot BREATHE from how polluted and hot air is, they are being forced on the street because their homes are BURNING,” writes Twitter user Carmen.
The situation is worrying especially as the country has reached remarkable post-pandemic recovery.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR), the tourism sector has contributed €194 billion to the country’s economy by the end of the year.
Julia Simpson, the President and CEO of WTTC confirmed that travel and tourism is one of the main contributors to the economic growth in Italy.
“The sector’s strong recovery is great news for jobs and prosperity across Italy as international visitors return. Over the next ten years, we expect tourism to grow to represent 12 per cent of the Italian GDP,” Simpson stated.
In addition, the industry is expected to increase GDP in Italy to €237 billion by the next decade, as it has increased by 33.4 per cent from the tourism and travel industry.