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Some Turin Area Tourist Sites See Few Olympics Visitors

Olympic Organizers estimate that a million people will visit Turin, Italy during the Winter Games. Sounds like good news for the city, but as VOA's Brian Padden reports, this surge in tourism may actually hurt certain tourist sites in the region.

On the slopes near the village of Cesana there are few skiers. Cesana is the site of the Olympic bobsled and luge competitions but its ski slopes are still open to the public. Most of the skiers here are local, from nearby Turin, Italy. Most of the Olympic visitors are probably watching the games.

Laura Mills, here from London to visit family, is surprised there are so few people skiing. “Yeah, we thought it'd be really busy. So it's good for us."

Ski instructor Lara Zaccaria says a slow winter season is the price they are paying for hosting the Olympics. "Here we don't have a lot a business because the hotels are full for the Olympics. But it is good because it is important for all of Italy and the world and for us. So we think the future will be better."

The nearby village of Sestiere is full of Olympic visitors. And most are having a great time.

Elizabeth Biaett, is from Utah in the U.S. She was a volunteer during the 2002 games in Salt Lake City and says Italy is doing a great job of hosting the Olympics. "It has been incredible. The Italian people have gone out of their way to make things work."

Tourism officials, such as Mirko Ussegio, says this kind of favorable review by the thousands of visitors here, plus the positive media coverage being broadcast to billions around the world, will lead to increased tourism in the future.

"The visibility, the promotion, you can only get that through the Olympics, [it] is something you can't pay for with any money."

They hope is that the short-term pain being suffered by some will turn into long-term gain for all.