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Italy’s International Tourism Environment Report

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2020

Key Tourism and Migration Issues Post WW2

“Migration is difficult to define for many reasons. Firstly, migration involves movement with a spatial and a time dimension. Its definition requires establishing criteria pertaining to each aspect, to some degree subjective and arbitrary” (Bilsborrow 1998, p. 3). Bilsborrow (1998) goes on to state that, for a movement to be considered as migration, one must travel across a political or administrative boundary and then reside in that new place of residence. Since 1998, Italy has received about 7,112 asylum applications that increased by about 380% compared to the applications made in 1997 (Accardo 2012). Most of the asylum applications that the country has gotten originate from countries like Iraq, Serbia, Turkey and Montenegro. In effect, refugee status was awarded to about 29.6% of decisions of applications that were granted in 1998.

The country has further hosted about 5,816 people from Macedonia in 1999 following the NHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme (Pridham 2001). In 2004, the number of asylum seekers seeking to gain entry into the country was zero, even though the country had about 15,604 refugees and 886 stateless persons of concern to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The net migration was further estimated at 2.07 migrants per 1,000 populations in 2005. Thus, Italy is suffering from a migration problem with most of the migrants coming from the war zone countries. For instance, the coastal town of Sicilian at the Porto Empedocle boasts about 9,480 immigrants that have already arrived in the country, with a total of 31 deaths of people that were trying to cross into Italy from North Africa.

One major problem that the country is however facing is that the north and the south will not agree on how to handle the migration problem that is currently affecting the country (Massidda, Etzo, & Piras 2014). In effect, there is a north-south divide, with cities located in the south of the country like Puglia, Sicily and Campania being forced to bear the migrant burden and the North refusing to offer any assistance to the problem. Notably, the migrant problem has invaded Italy with many migrants from different countries coming to the country.

The negative effect of the problem is felt on the exertion to the country’s natural resources and security, as the government has accepted to host all the migrants making the people quite angry. However, the country complains that it does not have a choice other than to host the migrants owing to the fact the most of the EU partners located in the north have evaded the migrant problem responsibility facing countries in the south of the Mediterranean to handle the problem, without their support (Squires 2009).

In response to mitigating this problem, Italy has stated that it could consider issuing new migrant with temporary travelling documents, thus, giving them the opportunity to travel throughout the borders of Europe. In effect, this move could be contrary to the Dublin record which requires that such asylum requests be processed by the receiving member states where the applicant arrived (Salis 2012). Further, the country is also contemplating restricting the British, German and French boats from dropping the migrants rescued from the Mediterranean at its borders and ports, to force these countries into taking responsibility for these people.

An Internal and External Assessment of Tourism in Italy

The State of Inbound Tourism in Italy

International inbound tourists are referred to people that travel to an individual country other than their normal country of residence, and outside their customary environment for not more than a year for the purpose of visiting other than conducting remunerated economic activities. Notably, the number of inbound visitors travelling to Italy from other emerging nations is still small; though there is a steady increase. Noting from the impact they pose when they go to Italy, the arrival of tourists from Russia account for about 2.3% of the total inbound nights in Italy (Baldigara, Pagliuca & Rosciano 2012).

This figure has steadily risen from 1 635 639 in 2004 to 3 730 458 in 2008. Another emerging country, Brazil, also accounts for about 0.8% of the total number of inbound tourists to Italy, while China also accounts for 0.8%. Further, visits from India are also increasing steadily though its increasing share of inbound markets is about 0.24%. However, there are numerous changes like lifestyles, values and demographics of people from the developed countries, which tends to affect the demand for tourism in Italy (Figueroa & Moseder, 2015). In effect, this has resulted in fragmented tourism markets with the emergence of novel niches like retired travellers from the developed nations, the need for health tourism in the developed countries among others. Consequently, these niche markets tend to demand new tourism experiences other than the traditional offerings existing in the market.

Notably, the change in tourism niches tends to affect tourism demand in Italy, meaning that the country may have to re-evaluate the nature of its current business. Further, there has been a new demand for tourism with most consumers choosing to travel to destinations that are closer to home following the effects of the economic crisis on most people’s financial status. This has resulted in a longer-term trend of tourism demand, other than the frequent visits that would be characterized by extended stays. In fact, from 1998 to 2008, residents in the EU have increased the holiday trips they make to about 47% with a rise in shorter trips at about 75% and a reduction in long trips by 25% (Etzo, Massidda & Piras 2014b).

Outline of Italy’s Commitment to Tourism

The government of Italy has come up with a plan to revamp the tourist state of the country. The plan includes an amendment of the regulations that govern hotel buildings, a review of the tourist taxes, and analytical use of the available public funds targeted for use in the sector. Also, the government commits to the education and training of potential aspirants seeking to work as hoteliers or graduates in the tourism industry.

The first proposal is the need to implement a law that would be keen on the regulation of hotel buildings. This law proposes that the present statute on hotel buildings, especially those that are owned by families should be amended to allow for their reconstruction into houses of office space so that the owners of these dilapidated structures can find it easy to exit the business. This is because while Italy has many hotel rooms and space, its occupancy levels are low owing to the nature of these buildings (Angeloni 2013)

Another government plan is to create a national tourism fund. This public fund will be solely reserved for the tourism sector through which allocated taxes will be reserved and assigned to the tourism industry. Notably, hotels and bars in Italy are highly charged at about 10% compared to the 7% charged by hotels and restaurants in other European countries (OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2014). Owing to the high taxes charged, the 3% difference should be channelled to the tourism sector. Further, the local taxes that are levied on overnight hotel guests should be made standards and applied to effect change in the tourism industry. In response to achieving this plan, the secretary of state has specified some guidelines as a national strategy through which the tourism sector in Italy can be revamped. Among the actions that the plan is looking to implement are:

To set up a task force that is keen on the promotion of Italy as a tourist destination. One way through which these goals are going to be made possible is through strong advertising and marketing of Italy as a tourist destination (Presenza 2005)

Improve both local and international administration to effect positive change in the country’s service networks, logistics and infrastructures. This is going to be made possible through signing treaties with tour operators’ from other countries among others.

Improve the nature of the national observatory of tourism. This improvement is to be carried out with the intention of improving data reliability and collection to ensure appropriate information management.

Spatial Analysis of the Key Attractions, Tourism Products and their Access in Italy

Italy’s key attractions can be categorised into three. These are the cultural attractions, environmental attractions and social attractions. Cultural attractions comprise of the essential cultural inventories and art features that increase the appeal of the country (Di Lascio, Giannerini, Scorcu, & Candela 2011). These are historic buildings, churches, museums, castles and archaeological sites. Environmental attractions are those that enhance the appeal of the environment to the people. These are like available parks, the number of protected areas, and natural assets like mountains, beaches and lakes. Third, are the social attractions that determine the intensity of social activities carried out by the people. These include historical celebrations, religious festivals, gastronomic fairs among others (‘Italy 2015 Country Review’ 2015).

Tourism attractions in the country are categorised and recognised through their regional existence. Among the key regions with attractions are Lombardia, Piemonte, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Marche, Toscana, Umbria, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Sicilia and Sardegna. Rome, Venice, and Florence are the top three destinations for tourism in Italy. Other tourist attractive locations are Milan, Turin, Bologna, Naples, Padua, Genoa, Sardinia, Perugia, Sicily, Salento and Cinque Terre (Goffi 2013). The two attractive factors in each of these locations are the historical and the geographic nature of these regions. Notably, the Roman Empire, middle ages and renaissance have constructed many attractions that tourists love to visit (Patuelli, Mussoni & Candela 2013).

Also, many other cities in the north also use the Alps as a great source of attraction to carry put winter sports, while the towns on the coast of the country are known for their appeal due to the presence of the Mediterranean Sea, which tends to attract many tourists looking to bask in the sun. Notably, Italy is the home to approved forty-three UNESCO world heritage sites as compared to any other country. These are through cities like Siena, Verona, Vicenza, San Gimignano, Ferrara, and Urbino, while Ravenna is known for being the home of eight different internationally known tourist sites. Ideally, Italy is an authentic museum carrying about 655 of the worlds’ total artworks and monuments.

Among the products that Italy has to offer are seasides. The Seaside continues to represent the largest area of tourist attractions in Italy. Another product that the city has to offer in the art cities that constitute about 22% of the products that domestic markets love to see. They are also the main attraction source for inbound tourists at about 38%. However, other tourism products are steadily growing and gaining visitor traffic in the country. These products are normally a combination of destinations and include agri-tourism, cruise tourism and food tourism. Further, The Intesa Sanpaolo study shows that the country has also had a considerable increase in other products like yachting and cruise tourism.

Also, the tourism concept of the country has significantly changed evolving from docking regions to residential villages. In effect, the state is taking advantage of this evolution to offer packages and products like lodging and mooring locations around the marinas and ports. Thus, there is the development of complex apartments and commercial activities. The new trend is to offer combined packages of lodging and mooring places; therefore, around the new ports and marinas, a complex system of apartments, commercial centres and stores.

An Analysis of the Regulatory, Legal and Business Environments of Italy

Political Analysis

Italy is one of the most politically stable countries in the world. However, the northern part of the country is largely xenophobic meaning that citizens from the north do not tolerate outsiders. Among the primary outsiders that are not welcome are Africans and Arabs. It is assumed that these populations of people come into the country to exploit their economy and compete against the available resources. However, inbound tourism statistics have shown that there is an influx of in-bound tourists from emerging nations like India. As such, this kind of behaviour discourages tourist activities for fear of security and safety (Schmidt & Gualmini 2013).

Economic analysis

The economic analysis of the country shows that there is a disparity between the north and the south regarding development. The south of Italy is less developed compared to the north of the country as it has poor infrastructure and inadequate opportunities. Further, there is an inadequate density of motorways in the southern city of Mezzogiorno as compared to the north. Such a difference in economic development tends to impact on the accessibility of the areas to remote place leading to poor tourism.


Italy faces a host of environmental problems. Among the critical environmental issues that the country faces are air pollution and water pollution. While it is the responsibility of the ministry of culture and environmental quality, most of the responsibility and conservation has been left for the regional authorities. While there is a principle law, known as the Merli law responsible for the care and conservation of the environment, enforcement has been impractical (‘Country Reports – Italy’ 2015). Owing to the environmental issues that the country is facing and poor legislative to enforce environmental protections, the country is likely to face a problem of exhaustion of its key artefacts’ from erosion, flooding among others. In the end, this will affect the number of present tourism attractions.

Key Competitors of Tourism in the European Region

Italy is one of the sought after tourism destination. The demand for this country progressed over the years up to about 43.4 million visitors in 2009. Thus, Italy is the fifth in world tourism ratings, with its greatest competitors being the United States, France, China and Spain. A comparison of the statistical tourism performance in the country shows that Italy’s tourism number has greatly improved over the years with about 2.9% of annual growth every year.

While France is its greatest competitor, Italy has outperformed France with a slightly higher arrival percentage at about (2.7%) and 2.1% above that of Germany. However, this has been below Spain’s arrival numbers by at least 3.3%. Such a performance compared to the competition is considered good being that the country no longer has a fast-moving advantage and has developed tourism resources. Compared to other EU countries, Italy’s tourism balance was the second-best in 2008 after Spain’s EUR 28.1 billion, and better than Greece’s EUR 9 billion Austria’s 7 billion Euros (Bulin 2014). Notably, inbound tourism in Italy has performed well over the last 20 years. Such a performance gas enabled the country to perform well regarding market shares in the region.

However, an evaluation of the country’s competitive nature in regards to prices gives mixed results. For instance, while the evolution of tourist products in Italy has been favourable compared to the country’s main competitors, there has been the effect of negative indications of tourism mainly due to visitor perception (LaMondia, Snell & Bhat 2010). Nonetheless, the cultural attractiveness of the country is considered one of the key tourism strengths, while the quality of services offered is a key weakness. However, the productivity growth in the country is slow since 2000 which is also affecting the country’s tourism productivity (Lennon 2003).

Regional Agreements and Global Political Issues That Have Influenced Tourism Flows in Italy

Italy is one of the regional members of the European Union. Being a member of the union implies that the entire region becomes a single market, through which the flow of goods, capital and services are allowed. Notably, citizens from these member states are also able to move freely into the country as they seek to tour Italy. This has an impact on the level of tourism floes on the country (Peeples 2012).

SWOT Analysis of Italy’s Tourism Business

An analysis of the issues affecting Italy has shown that the country’s tourism sectors are active. A key strength is a high cultural attractiveness with the advent of historical sites and artefacts that attract people into the country. Further, the country enjoys a robust population of ancient resorts that make it more attractive to tourists coming in. Most of these resorts date back from the time of the Roman Empire to the development of key cities like Naples, Pompei, and Capri, among others. Further, there is a host of key destinations that people could visit as they tour the country (OECD 2011).

These are like the cities of Venice, Rome, Milan and many others. A key weakness is the xenophobic nature of the northern people, which could essentially disrupt tourism to the region. Also, the south is underdeveloped infrastructure wise meaning that it might be hard to explore the key attractions in the area. This is mainly in reference to the facilities available, the buildings in place among others. The poor quality level of services in the country is of great concern to the tourist industry as these tend to impact on the competitiveness of the European Union region.

Possible Strategies that the Tourism Authority Could Implement

There is a high likelihood for Italy to develop its tourist industry and flows. This is possible if only the government can undertake a host of strategies as explained below.

First, it is necessary that the country’s tourism authority reanalyses the nature of product quality offered to tourists in the country. Through the research, it has been seen that Italy is price competitive as compared to its competitors like France, Spain among others. However, it still gets a slow influx of tourists owing to the poor service quality offered. Thus, a key strategy that the tourism authority in the country could apply is through providing incentives to service providers in the service industry so that they will be encouraged to improve their delivery.

Another strategy that the tourism authority can apply is through creating tourism niches. A tourism niche refers to various tourism activities that are preferred by different tourists (Novelli 2005). Research has shown that major tourists are seeking health tourism programs, wine tourism activities, among others. In this case, the tourism authority could repackage its offerings to include products that are attractive to given market niches. This way, the country is able to expand its product range.

Reference List

Accardo, FM 2012, ‘Observations on the state of Tourism in Italy’, International Business Research, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 67-70.

Angeloni, S 2013, ‘The strategic plan for tourism development in Italy’, Economia. Seria Management, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 106-120.

Baldigara, T, Pagliuca, MM & Rosciano, M 2012, ‘A comparative study of Italy’s and Croatia’s inbound tourism statistics’, Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Opatija, Biennial International Congress, Tourism & Hospitality Industry, pp. 215-227.

Bilsborrow, RE 1998, Migration, urbanization, and development: new directions and issues, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands

Bulin, D 2014, ‘EU travel and tourism industry – a cluster analysis of impact and competitiveness’, Global Economic Observer, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 150-162.

‘Country Reports – Italy’, 2015, Italy Country Monitor, pp. 1-20.

Di Lascio, FM, Giannerini, S, Scorcu, AE, & Candela, G 2011, ‘Cultural tourism and temporary art exhibitions in Italy: a panel data analysis’, Statistical Methods & Applications, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 519-542.

Etzo, I, Massidda, C, & Piras, R 2014b, ‘Migration and outbound tourism: Evidence from Italy’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 48, pp. 235-249.

Figueroa, A, & Moseder, Dk 2015, ‘Selling Italy’, Travel Agent, vol. 345, no. 11, p. 10.

Goffi, G 2013, ‘A model of tourism destination competitiveness: the case of the Italian destinations of excellence’, Anuario Turismo Y Sociedad, vol. 14, pp. 121-147.

‘Italy 2015 Country Review’, 2015, Italy Country Review, pp. 1-323.

LaMondia, J, Snell, T, & Bhat, C 2010, ‘Traveler behavior and values analysis in the context of vacation destination and travel mode choices: European Union case study’, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, no. 2156, 140-149.

Lennon, JJ 2003, Tourism statistics: International perspectives and current issues, Cengage Learning EMEA, New York.

Massidda, C, Etzo, I & Piras, R 2014, ‘Migration and inbound tourism: an Italian perspective’, Current Issues in Tourism, pp. 1-20.

Novelli, M (Ed.) 2005, Niche tourism: Contemporary issues, trends and cases, Routledge, New York.

OECD 2011, OECD studies on tourism: Italy: Review of issues and policies, OECD Publishing, Paris.

OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2014, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Paris.

Patuelli, R, Mussoni, M, & Candela, G 2013, ‘The effects of World Heritage Sites on domestic tourism: a spatial interaction model for Italy’, Journal of Geographical Systems, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 369-402.

Peeples, SA 2012, , Web.

Presenza, A 2005, ‘The performance of a tourism destination. Who manages the destination? Who plays the audit role’, In XIV International Leisure and Tourism Symposium ESADE, Web.

Pridham, G 2001, ‘Tourism policy and sustainability in Italy, Spain and Greece: A comparative perspective’, Environmental Politics in Southern Europe, vol. 29, pp. 365-391

Salis, E 2012, ‘Labour migration governance in contemporary Europe: The case of Italy’, Fieri Working Paper, Web.

Schmidt, V, & Gualmini, E 2013,The political sources of Italy’s economic problems: Between opportunistic political leadership and pragmatic, technocratic leadership’, Comparative European Politics, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 360-382.

Squires, N 2009, , The Christin Science Monitor, Web.

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