Tourists on Conigli beach on Lampedusa, 5 August 2020 | Photo: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Tourists on Conigli beach on Lampedusa, 5 August 2020 | Photo: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

Some tourists on the island of Lampedusa gave their accounts of the migrant crisis on the island, which for many of the tourists, is a non-existent one. Some of the tourists said the migrants on the island are like "ghosts" because although the media talks about them, they aren't seen.

Less than three kilometers, just seven minutes by car, is all that separates the more than 1,500 migrants currently at the hotspot on Lampedusa from the tourists on the island's beaches. 

Tourists said that although they hear about the migrants in the news, they don't see them on the island.

Just hours after the most recent arrival of 370 people, which took place during the night between Saturday and Sunday (August 29-30) at the old port with a Coast Guard escort, the "other" Lampedusa is full of beach chairs and umbrellas and even platforms on the sea. 

Hoteliers' association Federalberghi said over 50,000 tourists have arrived on the island since July. At least 70 to 80 umbrellas were open all day on Cala Pisana, one of the few beaches protected from the sirocco Mediterranean wind, to the west, and on the last Sunday of August the situation on the beach was pleasant and sunny. 

There isn't concern among tourists about the migrant emergency. 

Some of them chat about the crisis between swims, and many of them are curious to know about something that they don't see. 

'Lampedusa seems like a ghost town' 

One of them was Nuvola, a tourist from Genoa who was visiting Lampedusa for the first time with her friend Silvia, from Venice. 

"We arrived yesterday (Saturday), but as far as migrants, it seems like a ghost town: everyone is talking about them, but where are they?" she said. 

"What happened last night (the night between Saturday and Sunday), we read about online, while friends from far away were asking us 'What is going on there?'" she said. 

The same conversations were also taking place on the beach between tourists, such as Laura, who came from Palermo and said she hasn't seen any sign of hardship since she arrived on the island. 

"It seems like they aren't here," she said of the migrants. She said she supports the protest of Sicily Governor Nello Musumeci because "it can't be just a Sicilian problem." "We need to have the attention of Italy and the European Union on the migrants," she said. 

Seeing an arrival with one's own eyes 

A tourist from Arezzo named Beatrice, who was visiting Lampedusa for the first time, witnessed the migrant arrival during the night between Saturday and Sunday, and said she is still in shock. "I was taking a walk at the port after dinner, and by chance I saw the Coast Guard patrol boat arriving with hundreds of people aboard," she said. 

"Seeing those poor souls at night was a terrible scene. I haven't been able to think about anything else since," she said. She was also struck by the protest of some of the local residents who were partly blocked by law enforcement. "It isn't right that they don't allow these people to protest," she said. 

Mirko, a 40-year-old from Genoa, had a reverse experience. He woke up on Sunday to see TV reports of migrants in Calabria and on Lampedusa, and then from the house in Cala Galera where he was staying with his children, he headed towards the old port, looking for traces of the migrant arrival. 

"I wanted to understand and I wanted to see, but apart from the ship, which perhaps was the one they disembarked from and was being cleaned up, I didn't see anything," he said. "It's striking that there's no trace of them, except a few Carabinieri cell phones buzzing around the island," he said. 

"In Genoa, you see migrants every day, we have a lot more. When we left, we were a little afraid about what we might find here, but the truth is that even if you make an effort, you don't see anything."

More articles