Tours to Italy are being reintroduced by Riviera Travel after staff made a fact-finding trip to review the country’s safety measures following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The operator took about 30,000 holidaymakers to Italy last year, including 12,000 to the Italian Lakes.

A range of seven-day tours has been reinstated from September after a team was sent to inspect key destinations.

Chief commercial officer Jim Forward said: “We want people to be confident travelling to Italy and have been working with UK health experts and Italian hoteliers amongst others to ensure that British tourists can enjoy a fantastic experience in a safe environment.

“I wanted to be personally reassured and so put this to the test, taking a team of Riviera staff – from operations, health and safety, customer service and the agency sales team – to inspect hotels and visit attractions in Lake Como, Venice, Verona and Lake Garda.

“We experienced first-hand what travel and touring is like for those that want to take advantage of a quieter time to explore some of the country’s most iconic sights.

“We concluded that those arriving in Italy will have a great time, with a richer and more personal holiday experience.

“With fewer people you get the opportunity for a more intimate exploration of normally busy tourist hot spots, plus a warm welcome from hotels, bars and restaurants – seeing St Mark’s Square in Venice without the crowds is really special.

“You are temperature tested entering hotels and other facilities, and hand sanitiser is everywhere. Just as in the UK, you cover your face on public transport and in enclosed spaces. The new processes are sound and I felt safe.”

Channel director Stuart Milan added: “We recognise that travel agents often have a personal relationship with customers and today more than ever it is important that they have confidence in recommending an operator to travel with.

“That is why it was important for our agency sales team to experience the trip, so they can speak to our travel partners with confidence about the measures that are in place to protect our customers.

“Personally, I didn’t find wearing a face covering much of a bother, and in any case it was more than made up for by exploring the gardens, stately homes and galleries without the normal crowds.

“Of course, travelling now won’t be for everyone, but for those with a yearning for a unique and immersive travel experience we are confident that these tours offer something special.

“Our regular tours to Italy resume from April 2021, and forward bookings are already very strong.”