Italy: CIT Tours Introduces Project Return

CIT Tours has big news for 1998: Progetto Ritorno, Project Return, a new program designed to help Italian-Americans visit Italy and those areas from which their families emigrated.

CIT President April Merenda said she expects the response to Project Return to be "huge."

"There are approximately 30 million people of Italian descent living in the U.S. and only 10% have visited Italy, according to the Italian Tourist Board," she said.

Project Return, said Merenda, represents CIT's return to its roots.

The 71-year-old company, which is based in New York, was originally created to establish offices in countries with a high percentage of Italian immigrants, enabling them to easily return to their homeland, Merenda said.

"Travel agents haven't tapped this market and the main reason is they haven't had the tools to do so. They don't know, for example, how to get a client from Rome to Reggio di Calabria in southern Italy."

Merenda said about two-thirds of the Italians who emigrated to the U.S. are from the south of Italy so CIT is also focusing on this part of the country, along with adding more city packages in this region. There is a growing market for Sicily in particular, she said.

The program will feature customized itineraries and pre- and post-stays in every region of Italy geared to assisting Italian-Americans in finding and visiting their ancestors' towns. "Enrichment" programs such as cooking classes and Italian language study tours will also be part of Project Return, she said. Full details of the programs and pricing will be released with the official launch of Project Return this spring.

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