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Italy’s leisure destinations performed reasonably well this summer but business travel is still flat

Thursday, 21 October 2021 17:11

Italy has had a much better summer than last year, driven by the performance of seaside and leisure destinations and thanks to an unprecedented domestic demand.  Hotels too are showing signs of life again with a higher occupancy than they recorded in 2020. But the summer cannot cancel the difficulties of an industry facing an emergency that has not yet been fully resolved. If, on the one hand, tourism showed its resilience, on the other there are serious critical issues that cannot be ignored. One such is business travel which remains flat despite some recent timid signs of recovery, while visitors to the art cities are growing although levels are still a very far cry from those of the pre-Covid era.

The lockdowns have led to a lack of qualified resources for the hotel industry

However it is not just the fluctuations in demand that are worrying Italian hoteliers as the long lockdowns have also generated a widespread lack of qualified resources. According to Fipe-Confcommercio, the Italian bar, restaurant and catering federation, during the peak season hotels and restaurants had to manage with a hundred thousand fewer workers. In fact many staff moved on to other job, even taking less remunerative offers that are perceived as safer and more reliable.  

50% of tourism in Italy depends on business travel which is substantially absent

“The V-curve of the recovery recorded in July and especially in August was mainly driven by domestic flows and some European arrivals, but it cannot and must not mislead us,” said Giovanna Manzi, CEO  Bwh Hotel Group Italy. “A good 50 percent of tourism in Italy depends on business travel, which at the moment is substantially absent. Corporate travel is also vital for the so-called Big Four, Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice, which account for almost 40 percent of Italy’s tourism turnover. So there is little to celebrate, even if the summer went well overall, but we had a difficult spring and the prospects for the autumn remain uncertain.” In July Bwh Hotel Group Italy’s turnover was 39 percent lower than in 2019, while August approached pre-Covid levels (-13%). During the first eight months of the year the company's turnover remained 60% lower than in the same period pre-Covid.

The Green Pass, a useful tool we hope will be extended

For Luca Boocato, CEO of Hnh Hospitality, the glass is a little more than half full. "Given the circumstances I would say that this summer was decidedly positive: especially for seaside destinations that fared better than expected as did secondary locations like Verona and Trieste. But yes, the main destinations such as Rome and Milan did suffer, and while Venice pulled up slightly it is far removed from 2019 levels.” Another challenge for Hnh Hospitality over the last 18 months has been the constantly changing regulatory context added Boccato. Hnh Hospitality’s seaside properties exceeded the 2019 season by 18.5 percent.  The art cities of Rome, Trieste, Verona and Venice also posted good results while business hotels in Mestre, Verona, San Giovanni Lupatoto, Bologna and Padua did not fare so well due to the contraction in business and MICE demand. "The Green pass has proved to be a useful and effective tool and we hope it will be extended as necessary."

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