In this summer season now running out, after a year and a half of pandemic, we can begin to breathe a sigh of relief on the tourist front. THE signs are encouraging for both Italian and international tourism which, just last summer, recorded significant growth compared to 2020 (the presence of foreign tourists in Italy scored + 32% about the same months last year according to l'predictive analysis developed by Isnart, the National Tourist Research Institute of Unioncamere). Even if the first fruits of the data on the vaccination campaign and on the reduction of new infections are beginning to be seen, we are nevertheless far from an effective recovery. Covid-19, as already widely noted last year, it has changed the needs, habits and approaches of consumers favoring for example the proximity tourism and holiday working and, at the same time, the harsh restrictions and increasing use of digital has contributed to birth of new trends such as Neverending Tourism, or the possibility of extending the tourist experience over time and space, thanks to contents and experiences offered online before or after the trip, or to e-commerce of typical products. But what will the operators in the sector await? How will they face the changes? Which trends will continue to spread? We asked Filippo Renga, co-founder of the Digital Innovation Observatories of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano And Director of the Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatories, Fintech & Insurtech and Smart Agrifood.
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Il Giardino dei Tarocchi
Levanto

THE INTERVIEW

1. How is the situation of tourism in Italy today? Has the moderate restart of the sector expected at the beginning of the year come true?

There has certainly been a restart, but in a different way from category to category. We can take two extremes for example: vacation rentals have grown tremendously, airlines are still suffering a lot. The signal is certainly positive. The green pass it has certainly helped a lot at least the movements in our nation (the European Union, not just Italy).

2. Despite the international crisis due to Covid-19, the Italian tourism sector was already suffering even before the pandemic. What were the causes of this situation? Fragmentation of the offer? Lack of skills? Other….?

In terms of market growth in 2019, the Italian tourism industry was in a particularly positive moment. The most important figures were recorded for at least a decade, after the Lehman crisis, thanks to a clearly positive economic context. Certainly the sector in Italy was suffering from a loss of competitiveness with a decades-long trend. The reasons that led to this are structural and many, often not linked to the specific sector, but certainly in the last 15 years we have "surpassed" some countries certainly less "rich" in tourism resources such as Italy but which have managed to exploit better the digital revolution (eg Ireland or Slovenia).

3. During the Conference "Travel in 2021: what awaits us? " organized by the Digital Innovation Observatories in Tourism and Business Travel, last January, you identified Neverending Tourism as a trend, considered as the possibility of extending the tourist experience over time and space, thanks to contents and experiences offered online before or after travel, or an e-commerce of typical products. How is the situation in Italy with respect to this trend?

Neverending tourism is a new trend for everyone. Therefore, Italy is neither ahead nor behind on this front, but could exploit it to create an extremely significant competitive advantage over other destinations and the tourist industries of other states. An advantage based on skills, as fundamental as our artistic and natural assets.

4. Are the different trends outlined in this last year (disintermediation, neverending tourism, proximity tourism, holiday working and seasonal adjustment) destined to last over time? 

Yes, without a doubt for almost everyone, some more and some less. Only for the seasonal adjustment I have some doubts. Man is a "herd" animal.

5. Vivila, born with the aim of identifying new forms of tourism and territorial promotion in line with the changes in the market and the needs of travelers, has found itself fully in the concept of Neverending Tourism. In fact, our platform will deal with the sale of virtual experiences and typical products related to the different Italian territories. Our research shows a marked propensity of international and especially American tourists to purchase virtual experiences, especially cooking classes. In Italy, on the other hand, this further method of getting to know the territory is not yet so widespread. Have you found it too?

We have not gathered solid evidence from the US consumer front to be able to give an answer based on this, so we cannot comment on this.

6. Among the different targets identified by Vivila for the distribution of virtual experiences, there is also the entire school and training sector, as we believe that it is necessary to promote riches, historical artistic and cultural even within our own country and that the awareness of the wealth we have is the basis of the promotion towards the outside world. In this regard, there are many initiatives also in the museum sector that offer virtual online experiences as a new channel for enhancing heritage. What do you think?

Our data confirm this trend well at least during the covid.

7. In an old man Linkedin article, entitled "Is Made in Italy forever?", highlighted how the lack of promotion of the Italian brand is one of the reasons for the low attractiveness that our country finds towards Chinese tourism. In your opinion, could virtual experiences and their video promotion be a way to increase knowledge and therefore the attractiveness of our territory towards the Rising Sun?

Without a doubt. A great deal can be done. But we need to invest a lot and with determination in digital skills.

We thank Filippo Renga for this interesting interview and invite you to follow him on Linkedin. 

 

 

WHO IS FILIPPO RENGA

  "Neverending tourism is a new trend for everyone. Therefore, Italy is neither ahead nor behind on this front, but could exploit it to create an extremely significant competitive advantage over other destinations and the tourist industries of other states. An advantage based on skills, as fundamental as our artistic and natural assets“.

Co-Founder of the Digital Innovation Observatories of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, where he initiated and coordinated the Mobile (Mobile & App Economy, Marketing & Service, Payment & Commerce, Banking, Enterprise), Digital Innovation in Tourism, Fintech & Insurtech and Smart AgriFood Observers. He is also coordinator of the Paths of Excellence at the Cremona Campus of the same University and co-author of various academic articles on Mobile services. He is the co-founder of 5 startups with a turnover of over 35 million euros to date.

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