Tuesday 22 January 2019

Italy invites travellers to experience food, culture

MILAN, February 18, 2018

‘Food, art and culture’ was the resonant theme at BIT Milan 2018, the leading international exhibition of tourism in Italy, which concluded a dynamic edition on February 13.

A total of 46,000 visitors, 2,550 representatives from the Italian and global media and 1,500 top Italian and international profiled buyers from 79 different countries attended the event this year.

Home of the Coliseum and the famous artist, Leonardo da Vinci, Italy has always been known for its love for ‘all things beautiful, good and well made’.

Three days dedicated to business, training, experiences, and discoveries for professional operators and travellers at BIT 2018 helped visitors uncover the latest and most interesting trends as well as emerging regional destinations.

With this year’s edition, we hope to widen the season of travel for Italy, opening the region beyond the popular summer season,” said Simona Greco, BIT exhibition director.

A trend to discover with every step

Italy’s inbound tourism is experiencing a positive trend, as proven by the presence of many Italian regions at BIT 2018. This year was the first time for Lazio, Liguria, and Umbria, with many other local authorities also attending, such as large cities like Genoa, Milan, or Rome, besides consortia, and municipality associations.

The outbound segment also witnessed tremendous participation, including emerging European destinations such as Croatia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Slovenia and Asian markets such as Japan. Thailand, India and islands in the Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Seychelles, and Maldives).

The Mediterranean and Middle East was also well represented by Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey.

Far-flung destinations such as the US, Ethiopia, Caribbean islands and a number of international markets were also present.

Key tourism driver

Eating and drinking, long considered a lesser aspect of the decision-making process, has now taken on a central role in the future travel plans of potential tourists, with a good number of travellers choosing to visit a destination renowned for its cuisine.

According to a research project promoted by Fiera Milano and the BIT Observatory, food and beverage represents approximately 25 per cent of each and every tourist’s individual spending and, in some cases, can even amount to 35 per cent, without even considering all the satellite activities involved.

Food & Wine tourism characterises the destination, promotes less well-known localities, contributes to de-seasonalisation and promotes traveller loyalty, one of the workshops at the event heard.

Food & Wine tourism can be an important instrument for harmonic and sustainable development, particularly in rural areas and off-the-beaten-track destinations, contributing to the preservation of the region and its local traditions, the research pointed out.

Global yet local, digital yet concrete

The internet and social media have also played an important part in the promotion of the Italian region, heavily influencing travelers about of ‘what’ to eat and ‘how’ locals eat through comparisons with online communities. According to the research, 61 per cent share their Food & Wine experiences and 87 per cent consider reviews to be important.

After the US, Italy is the most searched for country in terms of restaurant reviews (Source:  TripAdvisor, 2017), with three Italian destinations Florence (15th), Milan (16th) and Rome (25th), ranking in the top 25 most appealing Food & Wine cities (Source:  Booking, 2016).

The study has also highlighted how the decision to opt for one destination over another is dictated by the quality of the offer and the experience, from the richness of the region’s gastronomic traditions and local cuisine, to events organised in the area and finally the type of wine produced in the region.

Specialised areas and unique events

Besides the mix of Italian and international offerings, BIT 2018’s formula was also enriched with themed areas.

A Bit of Taste (dedicated to Food & Wine tourism) was a unique opportunity for Italian regions and a selection of other countries to present themselves with a new formula that focused more on emotions and captured new segments of travellers with a medium-high spending capacity.  Engaging cooking shows were held in two kitchens and insights into products and traditions made the area extremely fun.

I Love Wedding focused on the Honey Moon and Wedding Destinations segment for inbound and outbound operators. The participation of the Italian Associations of Wedding Planners consolidated the presence of this segment.

A new formula was also introduced for the MICE segment. Mice Village allowed suppliers to meet specialised buyers in a restricted area.

Be Tech, an area dedicated to the digital world and technology, was organised in partnership with the Italian Tourism Startup Association to select over 30 innovative solutions. The offering ranged from ad hoc solutions for the inbound segment, such as apps to enhance the value of the territory, digital guides, or innovative translation services, to more hi-tech solutions, such as guest experience, customised booking, or mobile first. The conference focused on the hottest topics, such as social media and blockchain.

“With more than 34,100 booked meetings and almost 15,000 meetings all done and dusted, business matching has cemented its status as one of our top strengths,” said Fabrizio Curci, CEO of Fiera Milano. “The conversion rate that has increased to 43 per cent (from 29 per cent in 2017) underlines our ability to organise an increasingly targeted match between supply and demand. Bit has once again proven to be a leading platform for the building of relationships for Italian operators, as well as a point of reference for the entire Euro-Mediterranean area."

The next edition of BIT Milan will take place at fieramilanocity from February 10-12, 2019. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: tourism | Exhibition | Italy | travel | BIT |

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