High levels of satisfaction among Italian and foreign exhibitors for the increasing number of international travelers and trade visitors, qualified and interested in business.
MILAN – It was a younger, more international, better qualified and increasingly business-oriented audience that crowded the aisles of the 43rd edition of BIT – International Tourism Exchange, which ended on Tuesday at the Allianz MiCo in Milan, to the great satisfaction of over 1,000 Italian and foreign exhibitors, as well as hundreds of hosted international buyers from all over the world.
This is the result of an exhibition concept that in recent years has been able to steadily renew itself, interpreting operators’ demand to go beyond numbers to focus on high quality content, underpinned by contributions from high profile experts, institutions, universities and the major multimedia platforms that set the pace of contemporary communication for the new generations.
A record BIT, even for private operators
“The turnout reminded us of the best years of the tourism industry,” remarks Adriano Apicella, CEO of Welcome Travel Group. There is a great deal of interest in our franchise formula, based on the bargaining power of a single purchasing center and the Group’s communication support, and we have made a lot of contacts. In a nutshell, we are very satisfied with these three days of BIT.”
And alongside the large organizations, at BIT even the smaller ones find international visibility and resonance that they would be unlikely to get elsewhere, as Valentina Colleselli of Meraki S.r.l., who coordinates the Slow Flow Veneto Waterways Experience project, explains: “Our network of operators experiences ‘slow’ on the rivers of the Veneto, and BIT 2023, with its sharp focus on new tourism, proved to be the perfect setting to make our offerings known. The turnout and contacts appeared to us to be very good. By combining our contact lists with the matching system, we were able to meet with many buyers, including foreign buyers. We are very pleased with the very lively mood of the exchanges.”
The world’s first marketplace for Italian products
Ever attentive to change, at the same time BIT also always makes the most of its system mission of representing the global marketplace of reference for Italian products. A vocation strongly confirmed again in this year’s edition, as they explain from the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region: “In the past we saw BIT mainly as an opportunity to consolidate existing relationships. But in recent years, great work has been done on hosted buyers, and in this edition our operators were also doing a lot of new business. Visitors asked us mainly for ‘smaller’ locations, active vacations but still suitable for everyone, and destinations that can be reached sustainably by train.”
Further confirmation of BIT’s centrality to the Italian product came from the extensive corporate attendance. This is how Veneto Region’s Regional Councillor for Tourism, Federico Caner, justified the decision to be a solid presence at the 2023 edition: “Veneto is a laboratory of innovation among Italian and international destinations. Reflecting recent trends, tourism offerings focus on the natural. Here we are focusing on an increasingly popular way of traveling that guides tourists to discover hidden places, different cultures and local produce through slow products.”
The world finds new markets at BIT 2023
The 2023 edition was also a platform for many foreign destinations to relaunch. “For Jordan, Italy is the main market,” explains Marco Biazzetti, Italian Market Manager of Jordan Tourism Board, “and for us, just being at BIT is crucial, especially for the new strategy that wants to go beyond classic itineraries to offer adventure travel, wellbeing and food and wine. We received so many visits not only from travelers and buyers, including non-Italian ones, but also from journalists from important media.”
A platform not only for established destinations, but also for ‘smaller’ destinations or those that have only recently appeared in tourism markets. “Anguilla is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, but it is not one of the best known,” says Tiziana Gennari, Anguilla Tourist Board Italy. It is crucial for us to be at BIT to be ‘discovered’ by travelers, but often also by buyers who do not know us, the beauty of the island straight to buyers and the public. I have been coming to BIT for many years, and the turnout this year is comparable to the busiest events I can remember, we are really very satisfied.”
Nicaragua chose BIT 2023 to make its unique character known to the European market, as Ana Carolina Garcia, Marketing Director Istituto Nicaraguense de Turismo, explains: “We are here to introduce Nicaragua as an alternative destination in Central America to the Italian and European markets. The country’s main strength is its pristine and very diverse nature, which allows many open-air tourism options, from beaches to rainforest. With its focus on these types of travel, we believe BIT 2023 is an excellent stage to introduce the entire European market to a destination that is not well known in Europe but has enormous potential for those who enjoy open-air tourism.”
At BIT 2023, top buyers from around the world find what they’re looking for
Similar satisfaction shines through on the demand side. Susanne Mozel, of Omega National Travel (Canada), explains: “North American clients know Italy very well. They are very particular and look for special offerings in small villages or off-the-beaten-track routes. At BIT I found some very unique proposals, such as dining under a real vineyard or exploring the secret passages of a castle that the nobility used to move around without being noticed by their subjects. It is these kinds of experiences, capable of fascination, that make the difference.”
“The Middle Eastern market is exploring active lifestyles, which until recently were not of much interest to Middle Eastern clients. As a result, people are also beginning to pursue the active vacation. We are to look for experiences of this kind not only in the Italian context, but in Europe in general. Italy is also a favorite destination for wedding tourism and honeymooners, and as well as the great classics such as Venice, travelers are also seeking southern destinations such as the Amalfi Coast, small towns and smaller islands,” summarizes Abdoul Azez of Highline Travel & Tourism, UAE.
Therefore, the strong desire for outdoor, active but not excessive vacations, the search for lesser-known destinations and authentic experiences is confirmed. And food and wine is a well-established fact that is part of almost every travel experience.
Taking advantage of the gradual-and long-awaited-reduction of restrictions, 2023 will also be the year of the return of long haul: whether in search of new destinations, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, or to classic destinations in the Indian Ocean or the Caribbean.
BIT 2023 reaffirmed and strengthened its pivotal role not only for tourism but for the economic system in general, with many Italian and foreign institutional participants and an important impact on the city: in addition to being a platform for the interchange of supply and demand, it also represented a knowledge-sharing hub outlining the future of tourism, with more than 40 conferences in the Bringing Innovation into Travel format and dozens of events organized by exhibitors that brought together authoritative academics, top institutional levels, experts and analysts of international standing around the same table.
BIT 2023 also marked a milestone as the first carbon-neutral edition: the estimated 3,000 tons of CO2 generated by the event will be fully offset by a certified environmental project of a photovoltaic plant in the Andhra Pradesh region of India, therefore also having a social value.
The 44th edition will be held again at Allianz MiCo in Milan from Sunday, February 4 to Tuesday, February 6, 2024.
Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.
She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.