EasyJet has apologised after describing an Italian holiday destination as the ‘land of mafia and earthquakes’.
The airline said that Lamezia in the Calabria region was “distinctly lacking in tourists, thanks to a history of Mafia activity and earthquakes.”
The carrier has now removed the description which it says was designed to “highlight how Calabria is underestimated as a holiday destination.”
The full description on the easyJet website stated: “For a full taste of whirlwind living, it has to be Calabria.
“The region is distinctly lacking in tourists, thanks to a history of Mafia activity and earthquakes – and no city as iconic as Rome or Venice to draw in Instagrammers.”
The description sparked huge backlash.
Deputy of Fratelli d’Italia, Wanda Ferro, said that description was “so far from reality and offensive that it cannot simply be the result of the superficiality, ignorance or nightmares of those who wrote the text”.
The minister for territorial cohesion, Peppe Provenzano, tweeted: “Easyjet apologize, to Calabria and Italy. There is nothing else to add.”
The undersecretary for Cultural Heritage and Activities, Anna Laura Orrico said: “If Easyjet thinks that Lamezia Terme airport is the entrance to such a dangerous and unattractive place, it could always decide to give up the profits, worthy of note, that it collects providing, let us remember, a service. “
Group leader of Forza Italia Maria Stella Gelmini tweeted: “EasyJet’s pseudo marketing campaign sucks, insults the Calabrians and an entire territory.
“We are waiting for a mea culpa and above all a few more flights to and from the region”.
Outraged Italians took to social media to vent their anger.
One person tweeted: “This region suffers from the lack of tourism due to history of mafia and earthquakes – and the lack of icon cities.
“I see you now have cowardly changed this bunch of racist stereotypes, but screenshots will stay. Issue a freaking apology!”
Another person added: “Time to update that page that describes Calabria in the worst way, leaving out the real Calabrian beauties that attract many tourists from all over the world every year.
“Think about it next time before posting such nonsense.”
Another person added: “Surely your description of Calabria aims to ‘divert’ tourism to other destinations or is it the result of ignorance and prejudice?
“It is well known that the cradle of Magna Grecia is full of historical places and splendid beaches!”
The description was later changed by easyJet to a glowing review saying: “Thanks to its attractive coves, white pristine beaches, wonderful mountain and alpine landscapes, it is a perfect destination for your holidays.”
It added: “Lamezia Terme is a fabulous place that is worth visiting at any time of the year.
“In winter temperatures are milder than in other European countries; in spring and autumn the weather is perfect for outings, while in summer temperatures of 35 degrees are reached! It is always the right time to visit this wonderful city.”
EasyJet said they are investigating what happened and CEO Johan Lundgren has written to the Governor of Calabria to apologise.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the airline said: “We are very sorry if this content has caused any offence.
The intention was to highlight how Calabria is underestimated as a holiday destination for international travellers and to inspire more people to explore the region. Calabria is a key region for easyJet, we fly to Lamezia from Milan, Geneva and Basel contributing effectively to the connectivity of the region.
“The content has been removed and we are investigating how this happened.”