What to do with Europe’s dying towns?

Deserted buildings throughout Europe and Japan are being converted into authentic resorts to save rural communities

(Credit: Max Pixel, Pixabay)
(Credit: Max Pixel, Pixabay)

Thousands of towns across Europe (and even Japan) are on the verge of becoming ghost towns, but a handful of hoteliers are trying to reverse the trend.

By transforming vacant buildings into resorts based on the local way of life, the beleaguered communities are trying to attract tourism dollars that could at least some people to stay in their towns instead of heading to cities, according to Bloomberg.

The exodus of residents from small towns to big cities in rural Italy in particular has reached “emergency” levels, according to one Italian hotelier and professor, Giancarlo Dall’Ara. In some places, so many people have left that whole towns are up for sale. Meanwhile, other Italian communities are trying to attract new residents by listing vacant homes at extreme discounts — literally €1 in some cases.

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Dall’Ara told Bloomberg he credits the viability of the concept to homesharing: “Thanks to Airbnb and thanks to the fact that travelers care more about sustainability now, this idea of ‘living like a local’ feels current.”

In Italy alone the number of such hotels has ballooned in the past decade from 20 to more than 100.

In the U.S. however, similar ghost towns are transacting for millions. [Bloomberg]—Erin Hudson

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