Proposals for overcoming the crisis in Gallura

                                   (An imperfect Google Translation of the original in Italian, only partly corrected)

What future for Arzachena and the Gallura?

Considerations for the new public officials soon to be elected in the local Commune

We are experiencing an unprecedented very serious global economic crisis and it would seem that we have hit the bottom, especially for an island like Sardinia with a fragile and unstructured economy. We cannot sit around and wait for it to finish because it would overwhelm even more. But we can and we must respond, as we can change the fortunes of the Costa Smeralda and the economy of Arzachena of Gallura, if not of Sardinia.

Needless to say, "there is global crisis, so what can we do?" You can, as all over the world, and not too far, I have not seen the crisis. This year our sister island of Mallorca in September and in October, was full of tourists and all the shops were open and full of people.So what's the difference with us?  Let's analyze the situation ...

Mallorca is more or less the size of the Gallura, the sea is much less beautiful than ours, although a little warmer (it is more or less the latitude of Oristano), but has 21 golf courses, even 20 km from the sea and are planning others.

They have 9000 mooring berths, well sheltered where to leave the boat in winter and on the 16th of October in Palma, it was difficult to find a berth free! And if you ask "But when does the season ends and the shops close?" They look at you surprised, saying, "But they never close."

What does it mean? It means that they have a system that works, ie the structures that guarantee a certain number of tourists all year round for holidays, golfing, hunting, to work on his boat during the winter, and many foreigners from the cold northern countries, who reside there all year round for the climate.

But is it normal that after 50 years of history, there are no elderly couples who living their retirement in Costa Smeralda? Years ago, there was a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Roitmeyer, who then sold their home at Piccolo Romazzino and returned to live in Germany, that was in the eighties. Since then, no one else.

But why do we not have foreign permanent residents in Costa Smeralda? Simply because everything closes at the end of the season. And why does everything close at the end of the season? Simply because there aren’t any people there: it's a vicious circle, which  we absolutely must break if we want the Costa Smeralda to live all year round and permit us locals to work all year and not rely on a brief period of only two - three months. And every June, ask anxiously, "But how will the season be this year?" And we see that it's going to get worse!

So the solution is to have "a system", to create a system that works and that attracts tourists all year round, and preferably good quality tourists, the big spenders.


The first thing to do is activate ourselves to extend the season. How? By building and organizing a system to promote our resort in the world for the quality of Sardinia in the first place and secondly more specifically, the Costa Smeralda: its climate, excellent environment, events, sports, golf, sea, tradition, the history of Sardinia. To promote this holiday paradise, a tourist resort integrated with the environment and with a sea like few other countries in the world.

So handcraft-shops, food, golf, hiking, spa, horse riding, archeology, events, festivals, etc., everything that can attract tourists beyond the short summer season.

There are some things that we can start immediately:

1 – Shops  

We must begin with the shops: the first step to extend the holiday season is for all to cooperate, to work together for eg. it is essential that shops, bars and restaurants remain open at least six to seven months a year, from Easter until October 30, to begin with. In Porto Cervo this happened in the '70s, but now we have shops that open for only two, maximum three months and then close with sheets of paper covering the windows, and shortly afterwards they peel off and remain hanging, with devastating effect on our image. When the odd winter tourist wanders here, he finds everything fully closed and desolate, he goes away unhappy and tells others not to come, and our situation gets worse and worse.

Then every year at the end of the season we should compel shopkeepers to leave the windows with a minimum of decoration, so that tourists who come at that time do not panic and run away from the desolation of the place, telling friends: "Don’t go there!" We don’t want the Costa Smeralda appearing as a ghost town, suddenly abandoned by all the inhabitants.

2 - Golf

We need to encourage the construction of golf courses that bring players even in winter. It is often said that "on the golf course it never rains," because golfers are so enthusiastic about their sport, that they play in all weather conditions, wind, rain, even snow.

For those big investors who want to build large projects, they should be encouraged to also include golf courses in their projects, as a professional service. And it takes several courses to make a "system", because the golfer does not come here to play just on one golf course, he gets bored after two days and wants to change the course. He plans his holiday only where there are several fields on which to play. See Mallorca which has 21, not to mention the Costa del Sol with 47 and another 43 along the coast and the Algarve in Portugal with 37 golf courses.

But not necessarily the golf courses need to be located on the sea, it is also fine in the countryside. There are many beautiful areas in the countryside of Arzachena, perfect for golf courses, which should be studied and promoted. But one must not be opposed on principle to the granting of new cubic metres of building capacity for the course, otherwise you will not have a new golf course, because it is the real-estate, villas and apartments that provide the necessary profitability to pay for the high cost of construction of the golf course, which cannot sustain itself only with the collection of "green fees". But the building must not be overdone, requirements should be calculated on the minimum necessary to allow the return on investment and cover the cost of construction of the field, and the fair profit of the entrepreneur .

3 - Trekking

There are other sports that can be easily arranged to bring tourists all year round: hiking, jogging, climbing in the countryside in the hills and mountains, rock climbing, paragliding. We want safe routes, with proper signposting, away from the traffic of the roads and we want the bike paths for mountain biking (for example from Arzachena Cannigione and along the sea to Palau).

Then there is archaeological tourism, culinary, artistic and culture. Paramedic health centers, wellness centers, spas, that work all year round. These are all things that should be seriously promoted and organized and coordinated at the Regional level to make a global system that would encourage tourists to return many times to Sardinia.

4 - Shipyard mooring

Shipyards are lacking for the winter storage of boats. In the Commune of Arzachena you cannot store a sailboat "on the hard" (except at very high prices and then only in Porto Cervo).  Cala Bitta has shallow water and in Cannigione this service is not provided, so one must look elsewhere, perhaps Olbia or Arbatax. It's a lost business for Arzachena, which would bring the owners here at any time of year to follow the work, feeding the various local businesses and artisans. The Gulf of Arzachena is well suited, being sheltered from the Mistral. Here we would like a storage for two to three thousand boats, which would be a good investment opportunity and for the local workforce.  

Keep in mind that there is a large influx of yachts coming from the cold seas of northern Europe who make their way through the Straits of Gibraltar to sail the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The stages of this movement from West to East, is Gibraltar with 1000 berths, Mallorca in the Balearic Islands with 9000 berths, Malta 1300 and ending in Marmaris in Turkey with 2500 berths, where there is safe berthing, shelter for the winter and all necessary supplies and repair services.

But with the dramatic increase of the boats in recent years (they build thousands each year in Europe) but in these great centers of large marine sea, the berths are now completely sold out and it is most difficult to find free space for your boat.

Sardinia however is completely cut off from this great flow of yachts, except for brief stopovers in Cagliari and is losing a great opportunity. It should be also completed the construction of ports that are missing on the west coast of Sardinia, to give the possibility to nautical tourism for the circumnavigation of Sardinia, which is now undertaken only by a few brave captains.

The geographical position of Sardinia, and in particular of Arzachena, with the archipelago of La Maddalena, provides an ideal base for sea cruises, which can encompass the whole of Sardinia, Corsica, the Cote d'Azur, the Balearic Islands, the Tuscan Archipelago, the Lazio islands, Campania, Aeolian islands, Sicily and Tunisia. Sardinia could therefore house the same boat throughout the year, for several years.

The City of Arzachena should therefore include in its urban planning the possibility of such a big boatyard for storage of boats and encourage its implementation. Similarly the towns on the west coast should provide for the ports that are missing there. Sardinia therefore would benefit from this great opportunity that would be offered by the international yachting.

5 - The young workforce  

With adequate storage marinas and yards there are many job opportunities for our youth, for all services related to the boats:

sailors, skipper and crane operators, painters, mechanics, carpenters, upholsterers, and young people listen well, sailmakers (this is an exciting new profession), rigger (maintainer and regulator of  the rigging), electronics installers on the boats (and interesting profession very well-paid) production of carbon parts (the material of the future for the boats), for workers of stainless steel, fibreglass, for nautical supplies and bunkering (fuel supply), and then laundries, restaurants, supermarkets, agencies for administrative, guard, then there is work for taxis, hire cars and motorbikes, etc..

There is a huge economical fallout from the large marinas and shipyards, which would provide many new opportunities and jobs for our youth in search of a job.

6 - System Sardinia

I continue to be surprised and even shocked, by the fact that many tourists I've met and even Costa Smeralda homeowners, have never visited the rest of Sardinia and the few who did, are enthusiastic about it. This means that we do not do enough to make "system" of the whole of Sardinia. If we do it seriously, all visitors would realize that there is much to see and to do in Sardinia and that will return many times to see it all, and in all seasons, which would help to create that critical mass that is missing, that we so badly need.

Sardinia is in effect a "small continent", as varied in its geography, history, archeology, culture, foods, wines, customs, festivals and folklore and arts and crafts and food, and its attractions are inexhaustible. Myself in 40 years of excursions, still find something new and wonderful to visit (to list them all now I would end tomorrow)

Suffice it to say that the North must offer our tourists attractions of the South, as they must offer attractions to the North, without jealousy or envy premises, with a global vision of the "system Sardinia". Only then we will have year-round tourism and a stable and flourishing economy.

I find it simplistic and a waste of money and energy when various individual municipalities are presented at international fairs, while they should make a joint effort together with the Region to promote the whole of Sardinia, with a result far more effective. Two great new emerging markets are China and India. This winter I have seen many tourist locations within the Czech Republic, invaded by Chinese tourists, despite the off-season, the cold, snow and castles and shops all closed.


Now we come to the problems to be solved.

a) Transportation

Transport is a big problem. Coming to Sardinia in general is too expensive, both for sea and air. Meridiana asked 680 euros in August for return flight Olbia - Florence, but with this one can price go to New York twice! Now we also have car ferries with high prices.

Recently holiday habits have changed, people do not buy or rent an apartment to make two-month holidays, many prefer short stays throughout the year in different parts of the world. Today, with the low-cost flights, the travel is the least part of the cost of the holiday. They consult the internet and choose among the offerings the one that costs less, for where to go for the weekend. So we have to introduce all-inclusive off-season deals, for example, package flight, hotel and car at the Sardinian Cavalcade of Sassari, for the Carnival at Tempio, the 'Cortes apertes' in the various towns of the interior, the chestnut festival, or the archaeological tour and so on.

With more accessible transport, we would have more tourists, even in winter and homeowners that are more often and more willing to come for the weekend only, supplying that critical mass of persons that will allow shops to stay open all the time.

b) Beaches

And here we come to another delicate problem for those who already have a house in Costa Smeralda, who can no longer go to the beach, as they can't find a strip of sand free to lay in, because the beaches are packed with people, people from all over Sardinia "to see the VIPs" of the Costa Smeralda and because here all is clean and for free. On other Sardinian shores the number is closed and you must pay for access to the beach, but not on Costa Smeralda. I do not know why. I hope we do not get to the point that we see in the picture.  

We must pay a few Euros for a parking place in a dusty parking lot under the sun, but many of these outsiders don't even pay that, because they park their cars on the sidewalks, or in the Mediterranean macchia  destroying it, without paying and without any control. Always with severe damage to nature and to our image for the disorder and anarchy that you see.

This mass of people taking up space on the beaches from those who actually have a home here and who pay their high home taxes, consortium fess and condominium expenses. It 's also why it is hard to find customers to rent the apartments. What reason is there to rent an apartment if you cannot then go to the beach?

The large villas on the sea still manage to rent (for a while) because they have large gardens and beautiful swimming pools. Their tenants need not go to the beach by car, but have a boat of their to go to the islands. But beware, there are already many vacant houses in second and third row in summer, because nobody wants them. Many prefer to hire a large yacht and stay in the harbour, which is why we see so many yachts and villas around vacancies. The rich indeed are 'escaping' into the sea.

Needless to say, "But to me what do I care?" When the houses do not require any more maintenance or services as in the past and no longer produce a large income,  we inhabitants of Arzachena are missing a great source of income. In fact I read in the newspapers of the increase of 15% in poverty in Arzachena, a worrying sign (soon we will be in many to go and knock on the poor-house door...)

So we need to intelligently manage and control the beaches, by adjusting the flows that come from outside and reserving space for local residents and owners and tenants of houses in the area. We must make it impossible to park outside the parking areas for increasing the decorum and avoid the mess of those who park without paying ..

c) Park of La Maddalena

The tightening of the prohibitions contained in the regulation of the Sea Park of La Maddalena is creating many difficulties for tourism yacht, which can no longer enjoy the beautiful islands in the waters of the Commune of Arzachena (where anchoring is completely prohibited) and are forced to go to the waters of La Maddalena.  

And, mischievously you may be justified in thinking that there are not only ecological and nature conservation reasons, but a political game to move tourists from Arzachena elsewhere. I had already indicated in my report of 2001 where I indicated that 89% of total bans on the Park, and 74% of partial bans, were imposed in the waters of Arzachena, on those islands that are part of our "system" and should instead be returned to the use of our tourists. (  

Now the President of the Park has recently increased even more the bans on Mortorio, leading to a TOTAL ban, then the percentage has soared to the detriment of Arzachena. This was definitely not covered by the original Regulations implementing the Park, which had forbidden anchoring only in the outer part of Mortorio. But does no-one rebel against this abuse and theft of our islands?

What reason is there to have a home and a boat in Costa Smeralda, if you have to go very far to swim? It was so jammed, a vital An essential cog of our system has been compromised, of "house and boat" in Costa Smeralda, whether large yacht or small boat. The damage to the local economy will be enormous.

The danger is that owners of the large yachts will eventually tire of the joke and will go elsewhere. One consortium home owner has informed me that he moved with his boat to Corsica, where he is happy. The Mediterranean is large and there are so many beautiful places, so Sardinia will risk losing a market share, as indeed is already happening. So you have to team together to reduce the excessive restrictions imposed by the Park on the islands of Arzachena.

d) Mooring buoys  

Regarding the fields of mooring buoys, these have been introduced in the world primarily to save the reefs by the anchors that are highly damaging. Recently these buoys have been introduced in the Mediterranean to protect the banks of Posidonia oceanica, which serve as habitats for many marine organisms and that can protect coastlines from erosion of sand from the beaches.

The other function of the fields of buoys, is to regulate the flow of boats to sensitive locations and to fit more boats together in a smaller space. The boat at anchor needs a much wider circle to turn with the wind, while the buoy chain is short, almost vertical.

The problem that I raise is a danger that with the excuse of protecting the poseidon seaweed, they look only to make big profits at the expense of nautical tourism in general. Many Mediterranean locations provide the buoys for free, just to use them and protect the environment. However, it is difficult for the boat above 12 meters in length, having high sides, to grab the buoy, so there is actually an opportunity to provide a useful service for a fee, at reasonable cost, mind you, by young people to assist with the mooring boats to the buoy, providing a service.  

The Grande Pevero and Razza di Juncu of Cala di Volpe, are currently fully occupied by obligatory buoys, which are distantly placed between them, available only for yachts over 30 meters in length. All other boats under 30 metres cannot stay there, not even within 300 meters from the shore, being forbidden. So if they cannot go to the islands in front, where can they go? To swim all boats must go to La Maddalena, consuming fuel, polluting the water and the air, pay the local tax, and cast anchor there, among other things, together with thousands of other boats to have a swim. But what is the point of having a home and boat (under 30 meters) in Costa Smeralda?  

The result is that we have fewer boats that come to our shores and instead are forced to go elsewhere, making us lose more market share of tourist boats. Even our bays are part of our "system" and should be protected from uses detrimental to the community and for our economy.

e) Building

Let me make a suggestion to this industry, which creates jobs and wealth. In fact, the development programs of the Commune of Arzachena include and involve a certain amount of building rights, which is necessary to create structures that provide the "critical mass" of residents that will allow commercial premises to remain open and work all year round.

There will be work for companies for several years, but beware, do not rely only on building for an economy, as did the Spanish, leading eventually to the financial crisis in the housing market, as well as ruining the coastline. This leads to a housing bubble that will burst with collapsing home prices and even worse, leading to the destruction of the natural heritage, which for us is our true wealth.

We must therefore prepare young people to do other crafts, as well as building contractors, as we said earlier. When you have built everything there is to be built, will only maintain and there will be room for all construction companies, then you must create additional sources of employment for young people. As we saw earlier, there are many opportunities in industry tourism and hotel-golf-sport-water that we get to start.

f) Tax on boats

The marinas of Italy and in particular those of Sardinia, are notoriously more expensive than abroad and thus already disadvantaged ahead of the competition, and if we added the heavy tax on boats that are feared, we would have risked a great stampede from our seas.

Fortunately, the action of various lobbies (including ours) against the tax on boats has had its effect and the government has backtracked on taxing boats for foreigners non-resident, therefore the boating season is less at risk.

But the bad news had gone around the world and discussed in all the sailing forums so all foreign boaters had decided to avoid sailing to Italy. But do not think that the good news has travelled so quickly, so the Sardinian Region should run for cover, spreading the good news to all the foreign forums and boating magazines. I have sent some Tweets on the subject, but it requires  effective PR action by the Region, if we want the foreign boats to return to Sardinia this summer.

g) Home Cleaning

One of the obstacles to the development of tourism in Sardinia is the indecent rubbish along all the roads and at every rest stop on parking place, and in much of the countryside. I must say however that the Commune of Arzachena in this sense is one of the more virtuous, but it is also in their interests to put pressure on all other municipalities of Sardinia that each Mayor do his part to help keep our roads clean, which are also part of our Sardinian "system".  

We want to encourage tourists to visit every corner and enjoy the many attractions that Sardinia has to offer, to better enjoy their holidays, to return more often, even out of season and so that they speak favourably to their friends. Without good housekeeping, this is not possible. But not only for tourists, but also for a sense of civil self respect and pride in our country.



I am part APICS, Association of Property Owners in Costa Smeralda (, which is formed in association just to try to remedy and to stop the degradation and save the value of our properties and to improve the quality of our holidays in Costa Smeralda.

There are many small but big problems, overcrowded beaches, piles of algae on the beaches, and unchecked the excessive number of hawkers on the beaches, overcrowded roads, shortage of parking, parking in the macchia, garbage collection, the water supply is often lacking, the smelly sewers, the village of Porto Cervo which is dying for the high price of the bars, the shortness of the season, the houses that one is not able to rent and the general degradation that we see increasing from year to year .

It 's needless to say, "But these are your problems, what does it matter to me?" No, if the Costa Smeralda goes bad, it is bad for everyone and already we are seeing and hearing more and more locals with pockets empty. So it takes the cooperation of the Municipality to solve the problems of the community, reminding us that the Costa Smeralda is also part of the Commune and is an important part, in some ways the most important.

We of APICS have been here for a lifetime and know the problems, and sometimes also the solutions and we offer to be partner with the Commune to discuss and solve all the problems that affect the community, to help return the territory to the splendour that it once was, and to bring a greater prosperity to all the inhabitants of Arzachena and a brighter future and wealth for everyone.

Laurence Camillo

                                                          <<<BACK                                         BACK TO BLOG>>>

Back to Home Page
    Copyright L. Camillo 2012