A massive communication campaign promoting Italy abroad, which from the outset can rely on the impulse ensured by history, culture, food and wine. The President of ENIT (Italian National Tourism Board), Giorgio Palmucci, outlines with Vinitaly action underway to support one of the most significant items in the Italian economy and suggests new ideas for wine tourism operators to restart safely while promoting the Italian heritage.
President Palmucci: What do you foresee for the Italian tourism season? What do initial figures tell us?
“The flows we are witnessing today are already indicative of this summer's tourism and are extremely promising. The last summer season took us by surprise, for example, with unexpected sold-out performances in regions such as Liguria, Tuscany, Apulia, Campania and even Lombardy, despite the fact that it was still struggling with Covid. At present, over and above mere figures - which are subject to changes as we adapt to measures and epidemiological trends - it is interesting to focus on sentiments towards Italy, the perception and desire that have always remained lively for our country on an international scale. The comparison over the last few months related to sentiment and content detected by digital tracking of tourists with France, Spain and Greece sees Italy start with an advantage, because on average it offers a more rewarding experience than our international competitors, especially in terms of beautiful locations and landscapes, as well as the architecture in our historical and cultural heritage. As for bookings, we are already at more than 30% between Italian and international tourists for August."
What will be the main work undertaken by ENIT to promote and support the post-Covid tourist season in Italy?
"ENIT has hundreds of activities underway, including national and international campaigns, trade fairs and events, European projects, travel academies, workshops, webinars and tourism grants. ENIT has been processing and disseminating official tourism data through a regular bulletin for more than a year, a kind of control panel that is always updated thanks to our 28 offices around the world, offering stakeholders and the media an effective tool for monitoring and evolving the situation in real time. As part of its activities to promote Italy, the National Tourism Board has inaugurated the Historic Archives of Italian Tourism and the permanent Virtual Exhibition ENIT and Italy: A Great Story, involving the digitization of more than 160,000 items (25,137,057 users reached with media relations to promote the ENIT cultural heritage), as well as Visit Italy web radio, the first institutional radio dedicated to promoting Italy around the world. Not to mention the Open Library, the online platform making the largest and constantly updated photographic archive of the most beautiful images of Italy available to everyone free of charge. In recent months, ENIT has signed numerous promotion protocols such as Italy Country Value with the Ministry of Tourism and Mibact, State Property and Defence Services to recover abandoned and unused assets and include them in the tourist circuit. ENIT has taken part in major events, including the Giro d'Italia, to relaunch the country's image, not the least through the rediscovery of lesser-known areas from the sustainable, slow perspective of cycling, achieving more than 14 million hits. The digital ecosystem of the Giro d'Italia with ENIT recorded 4,176,396 impressions. ENIT was also involved in the Alpine Skiing World Championships in Cortina. ENIT invested in an event symbolising the restart that attracted more than 500 million people live on television from all over the world. As for communication, in addition to daily activities on social media networks and the internet through Italia.it, one of the most visited sites in the world, ENIT recently introduced a new tool for promoting Italian tourism abroad, namely the Visit Italy web radio with 28 offices worldwide and 13 languages. In a period of B2B stagnation, brand positioning and B2C communication activities have proven to be the only levers available for maintaining Italy's excellent brand reputation as well as developing specific communication action with a view towards various "re-openings". Inasmuch, approximately 171 communication activities were implemented, generating a total of 383,838,928 hits. These global communication and brand management strategies were developed, in media planning and message terms, in a flexible way alongside the evolution of the pandemic as well as geopolitical situations related to openings, re-openings and vaccinations. Considerable effort was dedicated to four b2c campaigns: "Need to be pampered", "Need a fairy tale?", "Can't wait to go higher?" and "Can't wait to be amazed?". As many as 7 adv print campaigns combined with a map of sites associated with Dante, plus 19 digital campaigns that reached almost 2 million people. And three more TV adv campaigns, 80 video display campaigns with more than 65.5 million impressions, 20 OOH campaigns in the most important metro and bus stations in Madrid, airports in London and Dublin, on public transport in Budapest and many more scheduled for the future. In addition, 20 international campaigns with 118 influencers engaged for an overall reach of almost 19 million people (18,864,769) and the involvement of more than 170 influencers who helped stir the passion of people for Italy and itineraries linked with Dante."
Based on your preferential observatory, how many people choose Italy for its food and wine specialities?
“Tourism has developed in a more complex and articulate yet also up-to-date way. Food and wine have helped keep affection for Italy high in these difficult times and have even transformed tourists into travellers. Exploiting food and wine themed experiences becomes a shared heritage, generating tourist flows throughout the year even in less well-known locations. These experiences have changed the geography of tourism by introducing new forms of approach to knowledge of local areas, while also being a driving force for companies, far-reaching renewal of tourist models, focusing the offering increasingly towards sustainability, and adaptation to new trends in supply and demand emphasizing the quality of hospitality. The Italian tourism system and its outstanding wine and food culture is becoming increasingly aware of all this. We are witnessing a transformation of catering, which is among the first reasons for travel, especially for international tourists. Requests for food and wine itineraries, trips to visit wine cellars or farms, as well as processing centres upholding traditional local techniques, are increasingly frequent. And it is often and precisely the discovery of food and wine experiences that extends the travel experience. Through tastings of local produce, visitors also discover local areas, local excellence and the typical features that make it all so unique and appealing. Brand Italy is earning more and more followers through the authenticity of Made in Italy and its genuine flavours, traditions and crafts, thereby meeting the desires of discerning visitors attentive to product traceability and responsible management, as well as care for the environment and the cultural heritage . Travellers want to be involved in the experiences they take part in: they want to do things, not merely look at them. They want to live emotionally rich experiences, based on stories that bring together these experiences that can then be retold on returning home. Tourists love to learn from their holidays and return home with even broader knowledge. Holidays linked with food also help create and build relationships with travel companions and local people. Building and creating tailor-made product itineraries as a way to share and promote local areas and strengthen the production chain even on the basis of seasonality is a very contemporary approach towards understanding tourism."
ENIT has representative offices abroad. How will you promote Italy and the Italy of wine? Do you have any specific projects?
“Food and wine are at the centre not only of ENIT's international trade fairs but also face-to-face meeting and virtual webinars. We have more than 170 influencers as well as the involvement of international chefs such as Locatelli, who direct international travellers towards awareness and appreciation of Italian flavours. Wine tourism in Italy is increasingly becoming part of cultural tourism, precisely because safeguarding, upholding and promoting agricultural and wine-growing areas with the aim of interpreting Italy's natural settings suggests a new approach to enjoying holidays that aligns very easily with current trends in tourism These trends focus on increasingly relaxed and fully sustainable tourism, rural tourism that includes not only tastings and typical local products but includes in the offering several aspects of an integrated and multi-faceted supply chain made up of agricultural produce, the industrial sector and business, through to intangible approaches highlighting products through a social and emotional narrative that inspires recognition in tradition; this is how the wine tourism offering can create strong added value. This supply chain also supports Italian quality in that the food and wine sector ranks second in appeal for Italy after the country's artistic heritage."
Do you have any suggestions for wine tourism operators? How can they attract new tourist flows from Italy and abroad?
“In order to remain competitive nationally and internationally, Italian wine cellars must organize themselves in terms of sustainability, hospitality and innovation. Wine tells a typical story of the local area, becoming an incredible ambassador and a valid expedient in marketing and promotion strategies. Wine tourism is a tool for territorial development, involvement of the senses and making the most of the cultural heritage of local areas in an active and engaging way. All this also promotes food and wine tourism as a new form of cultural tourism precisely through the conservation and enhancement of agriculture and vineyard that will highlight the natural setting of this new approach to enjoying vacations. ENIT's commitment in this regard is also demonstrated by its involvement in the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, thereby creating a synergistic network around interest in Italian food and wine."