Tourism represents a fundamental sector for national economy, both in terms of its ability to contribute to the country's growth and in terms of the opportunity to enhance the value of territories and their identities.
As it is well known, the travel sector was affected by the health emergency and the resulting restrictions, which led to a drastic collapse. Despite the heavy blow, the industry managed to show extraordinary resilience: the recovery of visitor flows started in 2021 and was further strengthened in 2022. Today the sector is realigning to pre-Covid values, even though inflation, credit crunch and rising costs are driving up the level of caution on the part of businesses and consumers.
In comparison to other EU countries, Italy confirmed its fourth place for number of visitors in 2022 after Spain, France, and Germany. In addition, Italy ranks second among EU countries in terms of number of foreign visitors after Spain. For what concerns the market share, inbound flows (customers living abroad) represent 48.6% of total presences in our country's accommodation facilities, a value that almost reaches pre-pandemic levels.
In the future, the priority will be to maintain costs but also to focus on the customer and the issue of sustainability. The competitive positioning of the Italian tourism offer has improved but needs something more, given the significant changes affecting both offer (leisure and business) and demand, with an increasing consideration for innovation and digitalization of the 'journey' by travellers.
Sustainability is a fast-changing concept: we moved from a strictly environmental approach to a vision that increasingly embraces local communities, the harmonious development of territories, traditions, and production excellence, with food and wine leading the way.
In addition, digitalization and the use of big data will be more and more connected to artificial intelligence and generative technologies, with the goal of facilitating processes, developing marketing strategies, and improving customer experience.
Moreover, slow tourism values, which are centered on nature, relationships, and an ethical way of dealing with the environment, will offer lesser-known areas more and more opportunities and occasions to regenerate, diversify their activities, and open up to new perspectives.
Finally, a crucial element will be to develop a training process in line with the times and aimed at repositioning the tourism product in order to improve the competitiveness of the national economic system.
The main topics of discussion at BIT TALKS "Bringing innovation into travel“ 2024