Italy’s extensive natural, cultural and historic beauty will continue to lure tourists from Australia and New Zealand, despite the existing unprecedented travel restrictions stemming from the pandemic.
That’s a driving message delivered last week to the travel and tourism industry by Italian National Tourist Board’s (ENIT) Manager for ANZ, Emanuele Attanasio.
Speaking to an online audience as part of the Luxperience virtual travel solution, Attanasio said that he has “no doubt” travel to Italy will rebound “stronger than before”.
“The reason why Italy is still very much in the dreams of Australian and New Zealand travellers is because the country has so much to offer. Twenty unique regions filled with art cities, mountains, lakes, villages, hilltop towns, fashion and beautiful beaches… [Plus] 55 UNESCO World Heritage sites and, of course, a tradition of great food and wine.”
“Luxury travellers are always on the lookout for high-end hotels, rare sights and experiences, and – of course – extravagant shopping opportunities. Thanks to Italy’s vast natural, cultural and historic beauty, our country has become a favourite destination for luxury travellers,” Attanasio said.
Attanasio highlighted four standout Italian cities that are the essence of luxury; Rome, with its 28 centuries of history, renaissance palaces, fountains, baroque churches and medieval alleys; Milan, Italy’s fashion and design capital offering outstanding shopping opportunities; Florence, which is one of Europe’s greatest art cities, surrounded by romantic Tuscan landscapes; and Venice, the only city of its kind in the world and an “art lovers’ treasure”.
Speaking from Italy, Italian National Tourist Board’s Marketing Director Maria Elena Rossi said the luxury market was very important for Italy as it is a “trendsetter”.
“The luxury market is pragmatic and will recover earlier than other markets. It sets higher standards and sets trends that other tourists don’t have the same capability but want to follow.”
She said that international investors in the tourism industry are looking to Italy, raising standards even higher.
Rossi said that the luxury segment continues to achieve double-digit growth compared to the average visitor. In 2019, Australian travellers achieved a record number of overnight stays in Italy, topping three million. But the COVID impact this year has caused “great damage” that will equate to a billion Euros in lost tourism receipts.
Following a two-month lockdown in March and April, the country experienced a summer with “reasonable normality” which saw Italians take domestic holidays, primarily in August, with locals trying out first-hand the new range of health and safety measures and protocols.
She said that when international markets like Australia begin travelling again they will be seeking deep, authentic and sustainable experiences.
“People want to have an experience, get to know something new, have an adventure.”
Italian National Tourist Board’s tourism campaigns going forward will focus on both active and slow travelling, Rossi said, such as outdoor activities at a slow pace with fewer crowds.
The national tourist board will reposition Italy as a “leader in style, fashion, arts and tourism over coming months. Brand awareness is important to stay top of mind with people for when they can travel again.”
And Rossi’s advice to future travellers mulling a return to Italy?
“Rely on trustworthy travel advisors who will provide you with the best experience combining both seeing Italy with new eyes which is probably the big cities but at the same time combining new experiences, maybe in the countryside or the arts, and experiences with Italians and the Italian way of life.”