Italy’s tourism sector has boomed again in 2023, according to new figures coming out of the southern European country’s tourist board.
The board’s director of marketing, Maria Elena Rossi, has pointed out that 2023’s results for the sector are likely to be even better than 2022 – a year that saw a “remarkable post-pandemic recovery” with double 2021’s number of overnight stays (13 million).
At the World Travel Market, Rossi told Travel Weekly that 2023 would be likely to beat the benchmark pre-Covid year of 2019 by a double-digit percentage. “We are particularly happy about how the year has been running – I think 2023 will be even better than 2019,” she said.
The boom is manifesting itself in the shape of new tours and packages designed to take advantage of the high levels of interest in Italy as a destination. If the trend is set to continue however, there are likely to be ongoing tensions about the needs, numbers and behaviours of tourists in a country where there have now been numerous high profile incidents of anti-social actions by tourists and in which the ancient buildings and artefacts that make up the fabric of many towns and cities have been disrespected and damaged by visitors.
Priceless items have been smashed in museums, tourists have carved their names into parts of ancient Rome and driven cars down historic steps, waded into the iconic Trevi fountain to serve themselves a drink of water, and even surfed on Venetian canals, prompting the city mayor to call them “imbeciles”.
In a move to attract visitors away from overcrowded flashpoints and spread their footfall and spending power more widely, Italy introduced a promotional drive for less well-trodden destinations back in 2018. More money is now being poured into that strategy.
In 2024, we are planning a project with Abta to showcase Italy as a sustainable destination with small villages, outdoor activities, off-season opportunities.Maria Elena Rossi, Marketing Director of the Tourist Board of Italy
There are over 7,000 smaller and less obvious locations to promote and “each town has different characters and traditions, and that is the really strong selling point”, she said, adding that travel agents can play a “huge role” in helping people learn about and reach these underappreciated locations.
“We will be strongly supporting travel agents to get these products out there, and at the same time we will be developing the products so they are competitive on the international market,” she said.