“For an authentic taste of Italian life, there’s nothing better than Calabria,” the advert on the British airline’s website said.
“The region suffers from a distinct lack of tourists because of its history of mafia activity and earthquakes”.
Easyjet said the region in Italy’s southern tip, famous for its coastline, rich history and culture, benefitted from “the lack of iconic cities such as Rome and Venice capable of attracting the Instagram crowd”.
Italy’s minister for the south Peppe Provenzano on Tuesday demanded Easyjet “apologise to Calabria and Italy”, with Calabrian senator Ernesto Magorno shouting “Shame on you Easyjet! Calabria is a wonderful land with exceptional people.”
The region’s head, Jole Santelli, slammed the “pseudo-marketing operation” as “aggressive, short-sighted and with a clear racist undercurrent”.
Easyjet apologised, saying it had only wanted to point out that Calabria was undervalued by foreign tourists, and would remove the offending advert as well as launching an internal investigation, Italian dailies said.
“Calabria is a very important land for us, which we love and have always promoted with numerous flights to Lamezia Terme,” it insisted. Agence France-Presse