Sicily aims to attract tourists back to the island once it's safe to do so by paying half the price of their plane tickets and covering some of their accommodation and cultural activities costs.

The regional government has said it will pay half the price of travellers' plane tickets, and one in every three of their hotel nights for the duration of their stay. Using a budget of €50 million, according to The Times, the government will also provide tourists with vouchers for cultural and heritage activities, which will be available through the official tourist site once the borders are open and the incentive is up and running.

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The Piazza Bellini with the dome of the Palermo Cathedral beyond, from the two-tiered rooftop of Chiesa di Santa Caterina. ©Jonathon Stokes/Lonely Planet

Sicily has already lost more than $1 billion in tourism-related revenue since it closed its borders to tourists on 10 March. It's hoped that the new tourism scheme will make some of that money back once it's safe to travel again.

Italy is entering phase two of its lockdown with some rules set to be relaxed on 4 May. Parks will reopen, along with restaurants for takeaways but for the most part people are required to stay at home. A number of retailers, museums, cultural venues and libraries will then reopen on 18 May. However, Italian officials have not yet indicated when tourism will resume.

Italy's culture and tourism minister, Dario Franceschini, has suggested that only domestic tourism may be possible in the coming months. "We are making a strong investment in domestic tourism, because this will be a summer of holidays in Italy," Franchescini told Il Messagero on Wednesday.

To help prepare the country for domestic travel, tourists boards looking are exploring ways to safely reopen by introducing social distancing measures on beaches. A mandatory deck chair reservation system could be introduced, while a number of beaches may offer time slots for different age groups to visit, in order to protect the most at-risk demographics, according to The Local Italy.

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