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Tourism recovering in Italy with + 9% in July compared to 2020

  • With 15 million Italians on vacation in July, the study reports a growth of 9% compared to 2020;
  • In terms of revenues, tourism spending currently marks + 7.7% on 2020, with a further increase forecast;
  • At the European level, Italy ranks fourth for presences, with a share of 13.4% of the total of EU countries;
  • The Italian historical and artistic cities are confirmed as the favorite destinations with greater presences in Lazio, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Campania and Lombardy;
  • Milan, Florence and Bologna are at the top of the ranking of the smartest tourist cities in Italy;
  • Among the smaller cities, Pordenone, Cremona, Udine, Treviso, Biella, Lodi and Belluno are the most innovative;
  • The most growing tourist flows are related to food and wine, religious reasons, sport, nature, music and film tourism.

Rome, 20 July 2021. Rome Business School (Member of Planeta Formación y Universidades, an international network created in 2003 by De Agostini and the Planeta group) published the study: “Tourism in Italy in the post-Covid era” (a edited by Valerio Mancini, Director of the Research Center of Rome Business School, and in collaboration with Camilla Carrega, Director of the Master in Tourism and Hospitality Management and of the Master in Food and Beverage Management) who presents an analysis of the impact of the emergency health care on the sector and gives indications on new emerging trends.

The study reports that, with 15 million Italians on vacation in July, tourism records a 9% increase compared to 2020 even if they are 2.8 million less than in 2019, before the pandemic. 33% of Italian vacationers stay within their region and only 6% plan to go abroad. In terms of revenues, tourism spending in 2021 (May data) is 39 billion euros, + 7.7% on 2020 while the tourist spending of Italians abroad is 24.6 billion euros, up + 8. , 9% compared to the previous year (+ 11.6% on 2020), although the authors expect further growth in the coming months. At a European level, then, in 2021, Italy ranks fourth for presences in hospitality establishments, with a share of 13.4% of the total of EU countries.

A look at the regional dimension

The data collected indicate that in 2021 the Italian historical and artistic cities are confirmed as the preferred product, welcoming 43.6 million tourist arrivals (of which almost 60% foreigners from the USA, Germany and France above all) with a share of 35.4% of the total, even more than the seaside resorts. With almost 27 million visitors, Rome continues to be the main tourist destination (with 6.4% of the total) while, again for the cultural sector, the most affected regions are: Lazio with about 5 billion euros, Veneto almost 2 , 9 billion euros, Tuscany (2.7 billion euros), Lombardy (over 1.2 billion) and Campania (about 890 million euros).

The research shows that, in 2021, the regions with the highest number of presences are confirmed as Veneto (16.5% of the total presences in Italian accommodation establishments), Trentino-Alto Adige (11.9%, with the Autonomous Province of Bolzano at 7.7% and the Autonomous Province of Trento at 4.2%), Tuscany (10.9%), Emilia-Romagna (9.5%) and Lombardy (9.4%). 58.2% of tourist presences in Italy are concentrated in these five regions, equal to over half (51.6%) of resident customers and almost two thirds (64.7%) of non-residents.

The new trends in post-pandemic tourism: digitalization and smart cities

In outlining the emerging trends of the post-pandemic, the authors emphasize the creation of smart tourist destinations with a trade-off between sustainability and digital innovation “Cities and all destinations change their tourism development models to respond not only to a more aware clientele and demanding, but also to the growth of the digital economy and the innovation of skills “; being a “smart destination” is therefore not just a label “but a real process of transformation of destinations that aims to achieve the sustainable development goals outlined by the UN in the 2030 Agenda”.

In this sense, the results of the RBS survey see, in 2021, Milan, Florence and Bologna at the top of the ranking of the smartest cities in Italy, although they do not achieve particular positive performances in environmental sustainability. Milan appears to be the leading urban reality in terms of economic solidity, research and development, sustainable mobility and social cohesion. Florence has its strong point in tourist-cultural attractiveness and points of excellence in the field of digital transformation. The Tuscan capital also excels in liveability and initiatives related to citizen empowerment. Bologna remains very strong at national level for the interoperability of some projects thanks to good governance and an increasingly “intelligent” community. Excellent results from social inclusion, energy saving and research and innovation.

The study also includes a subdivision between metropolitan, medium and small cities: the three leading cities in the general classification are also in that of metropolitan cities. The strengths that characterize them essentially concern the ability to enhance urban green spaces, to encourage digital transformation (access to broadband, open data, public wi-fi, online services) and to invest in sustainable mobility (intermodality, car and bike sharing, emission reduction, pedestrian areas). The first three medium-sized cities, Trento, Bergamo and Pisa, emerge thanks to social inclusion (assistance for the elderly, hospitality, social and health services), education (innovative training offer, school accessibility, NEET percentage – Not in Education, Employment or Training) and energy (sustainability of consumption, quality of services, adaptation of the municipal heritage).

Among the smaller urban areas, there are seven cities that tend to evolve into real small smart cities: Pordenone, Cremona, Udine, Treviso, Biella, Lodi and Belluno. Their ability to innovate develops in particular in the areas of urban waste management (incidence of separate collection, reduction of waste production, awareness-raising initiatives), innovation and research (coworking spaces, presence of start-ups and companies’ high knowledge, innovative services) and of legality and safety (court efficiency, territorial coverage, incidence of crime).

Always with respect to new trends, the Study highlights the most popular tourist attractions in 2021: international income for religious and pilgrimage reasons, equal to 126 million euros, grew by 71.4% as well as tourist flows related to sports holidays (410 million euros, + 49.8% on 2020); the presence of tourism linked to nature, on the other hand, in Italy exceeded 100 million for the first time and a turnover of over 12 billion euros.

In 2021, then, almost 5.5 million tourist presences in accommodation facilities are due to film tourism and music-related tourism is also in excellent health, influencing about 8 million visitors a year between Italians and foreigners and a growth of 10%. in the last 2 years.

Finally, food and wine is confirmed to be the first reason for visiting for local and foreign tourists:

relative tourist spending is over 12 billion in 2021 (15.1% of total tourism), of which about 5 billion spent by foreigners and 7.3 billion by Italians.

“It will therefore become increasingly important – Mancini argues – to focus on monitoring and accompanying the major Italian cities in the evolution towards a profile of more” intelligent “cities at the service of the resident population and, specifically, of tourists, with priority given to airport and railway accessibility, accommodation and tourist services, also in light of the funding provided for by the Government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan “.