In a bid to combat Italy’s dwindling fertility rate, a group of hotels in Assisi is offering couples who conceive at their accommodation a free holiday.
Ten hotels in the Umbrian birthplace of St Francis have signed up for the initiative, which will either reimburse guests or offer a second trip to couples who can prove conception took place during their stay.
However, the ‘Fertility Room’ campaign, the brainchild of a local tourism councillor, has stirred up controversy with authorities who claim its sexual theme is incongruous with the ancient city’s historic and religious appeal.
The Fertility Room campaign launched on Friday with the slogan – Venite ad Assisi. Insieme! (Come to Assisi. Together!).
To claim their holiday, couples have to produce their newborn’s birth certificate dating nine months after their original stay.
The organisers will allow a ten day window for conception.
Couples enrolling in the scheme do not need to be married to participate.
Organisers told The Local: ‘Giving birth to a child is an act of deep love, which should be encouraged despite the multitude of difficulties in life.’
Local councillor Eugenio Guarducci conceived the scheme to boldly address Italy’s ongoing fertility crisis.
The country has the lowest birthrate in the EU and one of the lowest birthrate’s worldwide.
In 2015 Italy registered the lowest number of births in more than 150 years as the average childbearing age rose to 31.6 years old.
Some 700,000 Italians want to have children but can’t because of infertility problems.
However, the innovative approach to raising awareness of the issue has not attracted support from authorities with the mayor Stefania Proietti telling local paper Assisi Oggi that the scheme has not been officially endorsed.
The Umbria region’s councillor, Claudio Ricci, is looking into whether the campaign suits the area’s image and if it will shine a positive spotlight on the region.
Accomodation signed up to the scheme includes Farm Basaletto; Farmhouse Casa Faustina; Farmhouse Le Mandrie di San Paolo; Hotel Upper Room Hotel Cristallo from Moro Gallery Hotel Assisi; Hotel Dei Priori; Hotel Fontebella; The Castle Hotel; and Hotel Windsor Savoia.
Back in September, Italy’s Ministry of Health launched its first ‘Fertility Day’ in an attempt to prevent infertility and sterility through education and health programmes.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the ‘Fertility Day’ launch, claiming the Health Ministry had ignored the real economic reasons behind Italy’s low birthrate.
They said a stagnant economy, low-paying, temporary work contracts for young people and insufficient public day care, were all contributing factors.
Italy isn’t the first destination to try to encourage its population to take holidays to boost the country’s falling birth rate.
In June, MailOnline reported that Denmark was on the verge of a baby boom – nine months after running a campaign urging people to have more sex.
A television advert called ‘Do it for Mom!’ was released last year to encourage Danes to go on holiday in a desperate bid to increase the country’s birth rate.
The steamy campaign advert was aimed at older parents and recommended that they contribute to their adult children’s getaways so that they can get a grandchild ‘nine months later’.
Reports have since emerged that Denmark was expecting an extra 1,200 births as a result compared to last year.
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