Coronavirus, the wedding industry in Apulia is on its knees: a billion and a half turnover frozen

Many postpone, others remain suspended: in a year were expected 19 thousand yes throughout the region. So far the revenues of the receptive structures are equal to zero

Some future Apulian brides and grooms who had planned their weddings in the spring have postponed them for a few months. For others, they’re postponed until the new year. And someone has not yet made a decision, for fear of not being able to deal with such a large expense once the health emergency is over. The Coronavirus has also brought the Apulian wedding industry to its knees.

“This is an industry of more than a billion and a half euros per year,” reveals Gaetano Portoghese, a member of the board of the national association Assimec and administrator of Pubblivela, which organizes the fairs Betrothed in Puglia. “The companies involved in the wedding industry, in our region, are more than eight thousand, and there are about 100 thousand workers employed. It’s not going to survive unless something is done.”

The accommodations

“There is only one number to analyze: zero.” According to Michele Boccardi, national president of Assoeventi and owner of Villa Menelao in Turi, the revenues of the 300 Apulian receptions halls in the first months of 2020 amount to so much. Zero is also the forecast until June 30, and the second half of the year is also strongly at risk. “In this year, about 18 thousand weddings of Apulian newlyweds and a thousand of couples from abroad were expected. Couples who were supposed to get married in April and May have postponed or cancelled their weddings, and June and July are also strongly at risk. We risk losing 80 percent of the entire annual induced,” continues Boccardi. “The problem – adds Lucia Alfarano of Masseria Serritella in Castellana – is that, when we resume, people will be afraid to come to weddings and therefore the number of guests will be smaller. Two newlyweds have told us that they want to wait for the vaccine. Meanwhile, in these months, we have to make up for the fixed and very high operating costs that we continue to have.” In addition to the reception halls, even the hotels will feel the backlash in part. Especially in a region that focuses more and more on “destination weddings”, foreign weddings. “The season for us is closed – announces Elena Le Fosse, Puglia wedding planner, president of Princess Apulia – for the most glamorous wedding dedicated to foreigners there is a problem of transport, because the airport facilities are in emergency. It’s difficult to reschedule the season within a month, I see it as hard”.

The clothes

Apulian haute couture dedicated to the bridal industry is also at a standstill. On the one hand, the more than 400 companies that produce wedding and bridal gowns (and more generally, ceremonial gowns) are struggling to receive receipts for the 2020 collection from retailers, who are now forced to keep their shutters down, and on the other hand, the presentation of next year’s collection is blocked, due to the cancellation of the spring fairs. “In 2021 we will sell less – explains Salvatore Toma, president of the textile and clothing section of Confindustria Puglia – because inevitably the boutiques will repropose the clothes from this year’s unsold collections. So, we are thinking of new reduced collections”. Revealing the customers’ fears is Ivano Francavilla, owner of the historic atelier Idea Sposa in San Vito dei Normanni, with outlets also in Bari, Lecce and Taranto: “Some of the brides who have moved their wedding to winter are afraid that the summer dress previously chosen is no longer suitable: this is not the case, because there is no seasonality. Fortunately, customers have been understanding and have not asked us to return the advances they had paid at the rehearsal. If that happened, there would be a collapse of the ateliers”. There are also those who are thinking about a temporary conversion, such as producer Silvino Quaranta, owner of Dalin in Castellana: “We’d like to help with the health emergency by producing masks”.

Other sectors

In addition to reception halls and ateliers, there are many activities related to weddings that have been affected in recent months. Like the florist from Bari Saverio Veronico, who has been running the business for twenty-five years, and before him his father: “But it had never happened before to have to close it from one day to the next – he admits – now we have to reschedule the calendar, since 90 percent of customers have moved the date, but also redesign weddings: the colors of flowers change depending on the season”. That makes the difference even in honeymooners, and in particular, in the choice of destination, the climate: “Tour operators, for package tours, can keep the money of the booked trip – clarifies Piero Innocenti, president of Fiavet Puglia – and in return they commit themselves to reorganize within 12 months the same trip. But now our travel agencies are at a loss of 100 percent, the work of organizing trips has been wasted and now we have to follow the cancellation of practices, or find other solutions”. Retailers and manufacturers of wedding favors and sugared almonds also have to deal with displacement. Dolci promesse di Marco Ruggiero, in Turi, mainly produces faldacchea, a typical sweet given as a wedding gift: “Orders are blocked, right in this period in which the bride and groom send us their requests”. Without forgetting who has the task of immortalizing the “yes”, the photographers: “Now – comments Francesco Cammisa, who works in Bari – we are dedicated to technical training, waiting to start again from our studio”.