On second thought, the real thing seems reasonable…

From runways to rap videos, it’s all about the Gucci, the Prada and the Dolce and Gabbana. However, with prices for a simple laptop bag running over $1500, these high end luxury brands aren’t quite for every travel budget, and in certain destinations, it’s tough to pass up on a quality knock off. This trend has prompted new legislation in Italy, in hopes of saving Italian fashion, tourism and taxation a loss of €22 billion a year in revenue. That’s certainly not chump change.

The Problem

Italy’s beaches are world famous, and attract millions of tourists annually, from all over the globe. A rising trend has emerged upon Italy’s shores and iconic city squares however, where touts are selling knock off goods at alarming rates. We’re talking designer shades, handbags, watches, baseball caps and football jerseys. According to the Telegraph, in a meeting with trade group Confesercenti, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, decreed knock offs cost the country an estimated €11.5 billion in tax revenue, and cost designers and manufacturers up to €22 billion a year. And we thought banning towels from popular tourist beaches was big news!

The Solution

Italy has increased fines and recommended full enforcement of a rather dormant and unenforced piece of legislation. Tourists caught purchasing knock off goods will face fines of up to €7,000 – and at that rate, you might as well just buy a real Rolex. Vendors, which are regarded as largely migrant groups from West Africa and Bangladesh, will face fines of up to €15,000 as well as the forfeiture of all goods. Apparently, a highly sophisticated ring of Chinese counterfeiters in the Tuscan town of Prato are behind many of the best fakes. In addition to the protection of Italian businesses and tax revenues, Salvini cites a need to protect tourists from aggressive sales artists and potential crime along the most iconic Italian hotspots.

The Implications

For better and worse, fear mongering can be an effective tourism tact. After all, when’s the last time someone spit in Singapore? While it’s hard to imagine a tourist actually being presented with a €7,000 fine, let alone actually being forced to pay up prior to departing the country, the risk will almost certainly make an impact on illegal, knock off sales. If you’re headed to Italy, go for the real thing, the knock off might actually end up quite a bit more expensive, and the leather probably isn’t quite as good…

Have you experienced knock off salesman in Italy?