They are as much a staple of Italy’s summer beach scene as striped umbrellas, ice-cold Peroni and children licking scoops of gelato.
But the migrant vendors who tramp barefoot along the shoreline offering beachgoers everything from designer sunglasses and sarongs to children’s toys now face a crackdown under the country’s new populist government – as do the tourists who buy from them.
Matteo Salvini, the country’s hardline interior minister, says the vendors, who largely come from West Africa and Bangladesh, sell fake brands and evade tax, damaging legitimate businesses.
Under a new decree, holidaymakers who are caught buying their fake sunglasses, watches and designer baseball caps could be fined up to €7,000.
Vendors who are caught selling counterfeit products will have their merchandise confiscated and would face fines of between €2,500 and €15,500.
The penalties come from existing laws, already on the statute book, regarding the illegal trade in counterfeit goods, the financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported.
Tourists who pay for massages and tattoos from unauthorised beach vendors will also be fined.
“We need to stop the invasion (of vendors) on the beaches, and also stop the sale of counterfeit goods,” Mr Salvini, who is head of the hard-Right League party and deputy prime minister, told a business association.
The association, Confesercenti, estimates that the trade in counterfeit goods is worth as much as €22 billion a year in Italy as a whole, with the tax authorities missing out on billions in revenue.
A lot of the counterfeit products, including leather bags and belts, shoes and clothes, come from the Tuscan town of Prato, which has a large Chinese community.
Mr Salvini is reportedly preparing a decree, called “Safe beaches”, that will go into effect this summer and will dramatically curtail the vendors, who can be seen laden down with merchandise and with multiple sun hats piled on their heads as they sell their wares.
Local police, Carabinieri paramilitary police and the Guardia Finanza tax police will be enrolled in the campaign against the migrant vendors.
While some beachgoers regard them as a useful service, others find them an irritation and refer to them as “vu cumpra” – pidgin Italian for “do you want to buy?” and a derogatory term for the itinerant merchants.
In the first half of last year, the Guardia Finanza tax police confiscated €265 million worth of counterfeit goods, including bags, shoes, clothing and accessories.
Click Here: New Zealand rugby store