Want a free trip to Italy? Just have a baby

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

HO­TELS in the Ital­ian city of As­sisi are do­ing their bit to boost the coun­try’s flag­ging birth rate by of­fer­ing a free hol­i­day to cou­ples who con­ceive there. Ten ho­tels are of­fer­ing re­funds or a free fu­ture stay to guests who fall preg­nant un­der the Fer­til­ity Room cam­paign. Guests will sim­ply have to pro­duce a birth cer­tifi­cate to prove the baby was born around nine months af­ter their stay in the me­dieval city.

“Giv­ing birth to a child is an act of deep love, which should be en­cour­aged de­spite the mul­ti­tude of dif­fi­cul­ties in life,” or­gan­is­ers said as the cam­paign launched over the week­end.

Lo­cal tourism coun­cil­lor Eu­ge­nio Guarducci, the man be­hind the ini­tia­tive, said the aim was to en­cour­age travel to the Um­brian town in cen­tral Italy – the birth­place of Saint Fran­cis – and help re­verse Italy’s low fer­til­ity rate.

If a flight to Italy isn’t an op­tion for you, how­ever, there’s al­ways Myan­mar’s own Thar Taw Ya Pagoda in Man­dalay – other­wise known as “the baby-mak­ing pagoda”.

Cou­ples have been vis­it­ing the site for 30 years, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a spe­cial rit­ual that helps would-be par­ents con­ceive their first child. In an in­ter­view with The Myan­mar Times ear­lier this year, chair of the board of trustees U Chit Htay said peo­ple come from as far away as France.

Italy has the low­est birthrate in the Euro­pean Union and one of the low­est in the world, with only eight ba­bies born for ev­ery 1000 res­i­dents in 2015, ac­cord­ing to EU fig­ures re­leased in July.

If the ho­tel deal doesn’t work, tourism con­sel­lors can al­ways send wannabe par­ents to Man­dalay: It might be just the treat­ment they need.

Photo: EPA

Pope Fran­cis re­cently vis­ited As­sisi for an in­ter­re­li­gious prayer ser­vice, but the town is now look­ing for less chaste guests to boost the pop­u­la­tion.

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