Pompeii tourist operators were hot under the collar on Monday after the regional government let slip plans to cap the number of tourists allowed to visit the archaeological site and open it to private business initiatives.
Campania tourist chief Claudio Velardi told local newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno that limiting the number of visitors to the ancient ruins was the only way to offer adequate services at the site, while he also wants to boost revenue by allowing entrepreneurs to make use of the Roman city.
''If we cap the number of visitors it will be easier to allow businessmen within the ruins to make money and hold events without being hampered by cultural fuddy-duddies,'' he said.
''There's nothing scandalous about that - they do it at MoMa, at the Prado and at the Louvre, and Fendi even rented the Great Wall of China to organise a fashion show, paying an outrageous sum to the government in Beijing.
''Here they ostracise you even for thinking such a thing, to the absurd extent that Roman Polanski has to make his film about Pompei in Spain''.
But Velardi's comments have outraged the head of Pompei's tourism department, Vincenzo Piscopo, who says that capping tourist numbers will destroy a local tourism industry already crippled by the recent rubbish emergency in Campania.
''We do need to plan greater protection for the ruins, but we can't limit the enjoyment of one of the most beautiful and special sites in the world, nor can we aggravate a crisis that is already suffocating us,'' Piscopo said.
''Local tourism barely manages to survive on three million tourists a year, and with the trash emergency on top of that operators are in full-blown crisis,'' he added.
Pompeii has registered a steady increase in profits over the last few years, cashing in 20.8 million euros in 2007. However, hoteliers in nearby Naples have expressed concern over a dramatic drop in tourist bookings as a result of the widely publicised rubbish emergency, which saw mountains of trash pile up on the region's streets in January.
Earlier this month the city introduced a special discount package for all tourists who stay for at least two nights in a bid to woo visitors to the area between Easter and July, with reduced entry to museums, bus tours and public transport.
Pompeii, which was smothered in ash and cinder by the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius, is one of the main tourist draws for visitors to the region.
... is Polanski back on board with his Pompeii flick?