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Having all but sailed into the round of 16, Italy is up against some challenges at home. It takes on the green, green grass of Wales which will have a spring in its step following its recent victory


Kirsten Hastings




Score prediction: ITALY 2 – WALES 0


Italy has faced a period of worsening macroeconomic outlook due to the pandemic effect that acted on an already critical situation regarding its debt to GDP ratio and deficit.

The covid effect has worsened that data, and the debt to GDP ratio that was almost stable, near 134% in the last few years, jumped to 155.8% in 2020.

The government budget was on an improving trajectory from 2.6% in 2015 to 1.6% in 2019. But extraordinary measures were taken to sustain the economy during the phases of lockdown. We should remember that Italy was the first European country involved in this kind of closure and for a prolonged period and consequently a large part of the economy was heavily touched.

It’s worthwhile remembering that tourism in Italy counts for more than 10% of the GDP and 13% of employment. The freezing during 2020 of these activities caused a jump in unemployment over 10%, despite the government applying various forms of measures to prevent it.

The start of the vaccine campaign, combined with the change of government in March, gives a new perspective to the Italian economy. Taking into account the Business Confidence in the Manufacturing Sector we moved from 71.3 in May 2020 to 110.2 in May 2021, the highest level since 10 years; the GDP forecast also was reviewed by several authorities, citing the last one in order of appearance the OECD reviewed for 2021 to 4.5% and 4.4% for 2022, in line with the rest or eurozone.




Score prediction: ITALY 3 – WALES 1


The green, green grass of home

Tom Jones wasn’t kidding when he referred to ‘the green, green grass’ in Wales. Thanks to an abundance of rain, the principality is blessed with beautiful vistas that give England’s green and pleasant land a run for its money.

Of course, being Welsh I have heard every sheep joke going, but the land is likely to be more profitable from tourism than agriculture in the future. The Black Mountains in Central Wales and Snowdonia in the North are stunning, with amazing mountain biking and walking trails. Add Wales’ great little trains and the world’s fastest zip line in Bethesda, and you have a truly sustainable theme park on a huge scale.

If carbon zero targets are to be met than we are going to have to spend more holidays at home. Add to this the need for us to adopt healthier lifestyles, as covid has reinforced, then this region of Wales looks an exciting opportunity for growth.

We need to tackle the weather head on. Yes, it can be a bit meh. Activity holidays though don’t need great weather. But they do need to be interesting, challenging and innovative if you are going to attract Gen-Z. A few yellow acorns pointing the way on narrow paths is not going to get them to put down their screens…

Rural Wales could be the new Cornwall. Just swap downhill mountain bikes for surf boards, and Bara Brith for scones and cream. Just need a famous chef to recreate ‘Padstein’ in the hills.

Investing in Welsh tourism is totally aligned to sustainability, healthier living and providing experiences not just stuff.

Cymru am Byth.