Reflecting a widespread trend, also the Italian tourist makes shorter holidays (“staycation”) than before and often opts for a disintermediated reservation (86.4%). He travels mostly by plane (and rarely by train), he likes to discover new places and is quite influenced by VIP or influencers’ vacations choices.
This is what a survey we conducted online in October 2017 revealed about the travel style of present-day Italian tourists. At the bottom of this page a report with some data we collected is available for download.
WHAT INFLUENCES THE DECISION OF ITALIAN TOURISTS
The number of days available is the factor at the top of the decision-making pyramid, while the budget is the second most important element to decide the kind of holiday they will go for. The type of destination and the activities of interest available on site come after.
The decision about the destination is often influenced by VIPs and influencers, in second place are the family traditions and the second home to benefit from (an investment many Italian families made in the 70s/80s). Friends' experiences are slightly less influential that TV commercials, while magazines and newspapers seem to have little impact in the decision-making process.
It should be added, however, that if the "VIP/influencer" option was considered the most influential element for 217 of the 888 respondents, it was also the one that received the highest number of negative votes: for 415 respondents it is the last factor that can affect their decision. An extremely indicative value about the controversial role of this category that may be a double-edged sword for Marketing Managers, depending on the type of customer they want to reach.
WHY THE ITALIAN TOURISTS TRAVEL
Italian tourists travel mainly to discover new places and to learn more about local people and traditions. The pleasure of contact with nature comes way before the need for relaxation: perhaps the recognition of its regenerating power and of all the benefits that come from it.
What we strongly hope is that whatever motivates the tourists to travel, they always respect the destination, as well as its local community and culture.
WHAT THE ITALIAN TOURISTS DON’T LIKE WHEN THEY TRAVEL
First of all, Italian tourists hate dirty and polluted places: two factors considered extremely disqualifying in the tourist experience. In second place are high prices that do not correspond to high quality. Overcrowding is a more common concern than safety and security issues.
HOW MUCH THEY SPEND
They usually spend € 50/80 for an overnight stay in a double room and € 20/40 for a dinner out. They prefer to spend a bit more for a strategically located hotel and for activities they like, saving on other budget items (shopping, dinners out, entertainment, hotel quality).
WHAT THEY DO ON HOLIDAY
The holiday activities the Italians enjoyed most and would like to engage in again are mostly linked to culture (museums, guided tours), local traditions (festivals, street markets), nature (parks, reserves, wildlife) and lifestyle (relaxation, good food).
On the other hand, among the activities they have never tried but would like to, there are educationals and workshops (good news for the experiential tourism operators), local volunteering (good news for the responsible tourism and for the humankind), and many soft / hard adventure activities: horseback riding, rafting, canoeing, paragliding, winter sports, biking, trekking, wildlife and much more.
THE DESTINATIONS THEY DREAM ABOUT
We asked the respondents which destinations would they choose in case they had no budget limits.
We wanted to understand which countries are placed on top of Italians’ travel dreams. This will allow us to analyze the Destination Marketing strategies that worked out in our country and to understand how the Italians would or will spend their money (crucial issue in this long economic crisis that hopefully will not last forever).
We found out that the American continent is at the top of their desires, followed by Asia with some countries impressively towering over the others, like Japan. The most desirable country in the Middle East is Iran, followed by the Arab Emirates (especially Dubai). The city of New York dominates the urban dreams of Italians, followed by London and then Paris.
Peru and Argentina stand on the South American podium, Iceland is the undisputed queen of Europe, followed by the UK and Scandinavia. There is still interest in the "European Tour", referring overall to the beautiful capital cities of our continent (interesting for the Interrail operators).
Many Italian tourists, even with an unlimited budget available, would like to discover more extensively their country, Sicily in particular but also Sardinia and Puglia, while South Africa is the preferred of the African continent. The votes received by Namibia confirm the good work done by the destination over the last few years and Morocco does not currently have competitors in the Maghreb, probably due to its political stability.
In general, some popular territorial brands (such as Patagonia and Lapland, while Norway is primarily longed for its glorious fjords) demonstrate the great attraction Italian tourists have for pristine and wild nature, as well as Polar areas (Alaska above all). Those who prefer tropical paradises and seaside resorts keep on looking towards the Pacific Ocean (especially Hawaii and Polynesia), despite the Maldives hold their own.
THE CONCEPT OF "NEW PLACE"
As you can see in the report downloadable at the bottom of this article, there are few Italians who are not interested in discovering new places. This causes heavy headaches to tourism operators trying to build customer loyalty.
Let us add just a comment aside.
We are under the impression that sometimes present-day tourists, no matter of what nationality, live their trips more as a flag-planting exercise rather than a precious experience to be deeply enjoyed.
This attitude is magnified by many factors (more affordable rates, higher spending levels, social dynamics amplified by internet etc.) that led to what appears to be a poor emotional connection with places and people. The journey sometimes becomes a pure narcissistic act and just a way to extend the list of personal conquests to boast.
By contrast, the growing trend in experiential and sustainable tourism is trying to make a difference.
The sample population surveyed is made of 888 individuals contacted on social media (Facebook, Twitter).
They mostly live in the north of Italy (65.8%), in towns with less than 150,000 inhabitants (65.2%), they are aged between 25 and 55 (67.7%), have an annual income between € 19,000 and € 39,000 (42%), are mostly women (76.9%) with a degree (55.7%).
The sample has undoubtedly been limited by the media bubble in which everyone is more or less locked up, preventing us to reach all the segments of population that we could otherwise analyze.