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Italy’s Tourism Industry Tries to Cut Out the Mafia Middleman

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An exploration into how one nation’s tourism providers have been affected by organized crime provides a unique perspective of responsible tourism. In a recent article by Business Insider, author Caroline Chaumont chronicles how Sicilian tourism businesses and in-the-know tourists are fighting against the tradition of the local businesses being extorted for ‘protection’ money by the area’s mafia, known as Cosa Nostra. The gang

These days, tourists and specialized travel agencies in Southern Italy are fighting back, by supporting business that defy the mafia. It’s a burgeoning form of responsible or ethical tourism in a region with much to offer: splendid Mediterranean countryside, stunning shorelines, hearty wines and cuisine that’s superlative even by Italy’s standards — influenced by the Greeks, Arabs, Spanish and French who invaded the island.

“There is a strong demand for [anti-mafia tourism],” said Francesca Vannini Parenti, the founder of Addiopizzo Travel, a Palermo-based agency that offers mafia-free holidays. “People want to know which shops, restaurants and hotels don’t pay protection money to the mafia.”

The addio pizzo — literally “goodbye protection money” — network of businesses was created in 2004 by a few young locals outraged that they couldn’t open a bar without paying up.

Addiopizzo provides recommendations and a map outlining where tourists can sleep, dine and shop, knowing none of their money ends up back in the hands of Cosa Nostra. The group’s main customers currently are school and university student tours, and also include special tours around the history of the mafia; they hope to expand their audience to the wider travel industry.

There has been some retaliation from the gangs, including arson, vandalism and intimidation – additionally, business owners who participate in the movement sometimes become isolated from customers and community alike as people avoid those flagrantly ignoring the mafia. 
To learn more about the history, the current struggle, and other operators and agencies in the area committed to run ethical, mafia-free operations, read the entire article on Business Insider.


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