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If you think the tourist sites in Italy are crowded this summer, enjoy the relative "tranquility" while it lasts.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he wants to double the number of visitors to the country over the next 10 years, according to Italian press agency ANSA.

"Our tourism does not appear to be on par, commercially speaking, with our potential, what we could do in the world,’’ Berlusconi said during a press conference last week. He also discussed a plan to create a national tourism command center, and possibly reduce the value added tax to 7 percent, according to ANSA.

Over the past few years, some of Italy’s tourism indicators have declined, according to statistics compiled by the U.N. World Tourism Organization. While still comfortably in the top 10, Italy slipped from fourth to fifth place in 2006, behind China in the category of international tourist arrivals. France, Spain and the United States take the top three spots.

The more popular sites in Rome, such as the Colosseum and the Vatican will never hurt for lack of visitors. But further south, the city of Naples has been noticeably impacted by the decades-long trash crisis, which came to a head in December.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Berlusconi said "the tragedy of Naples has damaged our image," ANSA reported.

The growing mountains of garbage gained world attention when trash collectors said local dump sites reached maximum capacity, and stopped picking up the rubbish in December. Since then, trash collection throughout the city and surrounding suburbs has been sporadic at best.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Berlusconi said the end of the trash crisis is in sight. He declared "By the end of July, there will not be any more rubbish on Campania’s streets."


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