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HomeRegional NewsEuropeFocusing on human-scale travel, BIT 2023 boosts the relaunch of travel

Focusing on human-scale travel, BIT 2023 boosts the relaunch of travel

  • The Allianz MiCo in Milan.

Italy is strongly present with regions and territorial realities, under the banner of slow travel, from hiking to beekeeping, historical parks to olive oil farm holidays.

MILAN – There is a desire to travel again, in Italy and around the world. This is confirmed by the attendance of exhibitors at BIT 2023, at the Allianz MiCo in Milan from Sunday 12 February to Tuesday 14 February, reinforcing the boost recorded in 2022. And this is also confirmed by industry data.

According to January’s UNWTO Barometer, the number of international tourists doubled in 2022 and is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in the current year. More than 900 million tourists traveled abroad in 2022, double the number in 2021and accounting for about two-thirds (63%) of pre-pandemic travel. Europe remains among the favorite destinations for global travelers and has already reached almost 80% of pre-pandemic levels, welcoming 585 million arrivals in 2022.

In this scenario, Italy also stands out for its positive trend. Banca d’Italia notes that in the first nine months of the year the Bel Paese welcomed around 56 million travelers from abroad, almost double the number in 2021 (+94%), reducing the gap to 26% compared to the pre-pandemic figure.

Italy is increasingly more people-friendly

This desire will be satisfied at BIT 2023 by both professional operators (during the three-day event) and travelers (only on Sunday 12) in a true virtual tour of the world, especially in terms of sustainable, conscious and slow experiences, and starting precisely from Italy.

A holiday spent learning how to make honey with a real beekeeper, or participating in the olive harvest by taking home a bottle with your name and surname on it, or discovering the properties of rare flowers and plants in historic gardens, are just some of the proposals for slow tourism from North to South.

Just to give a few examples, in Calabria you can go walking to discover the remains of Ancient Greece in the trails around Isola Capo Rizzuto, while in Rotondella in Basilicata tourists learn how to make Pastizz’, the traditional meat calzone, together with the local housewives. In Puglia you can retrace the ancient Via Appia, a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status, and in Molise the Via di San Francesco. In Central Italy, the Marche and Umbria offer biking and mountain biking routes, while in the North, Friuli Venezia Giulia is relaunching five paths – including the ancient Romea Road – and Lombardy is focusing on the mountains with a renewed offer of small hotels and non-hotel facilities.

Equally appealing proposals come from Abruzzo, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Piedmont, Tuscany, Sardinia, Sicily and Veneto, as well as from cities and municipalities such as Abbiategrasso, Caposele, Cefalù, La Maddalena, Macerata, Magenta or consortia and other entities including Best of Western Sicily, the UNPLI Lombardy Regional Committee, or the Pollino and Aspromonte national parks.

A world of sustainable and responsible travel

Operators and travelers who want to cross borders will find a variety of international proposals for all distances and experiences in the Leisure area at BIT 2023.

In the short to medium range, unique historical heritages, marked by the meeting of cultures, are close at hand in Sarajevo or Thessaloniki, with the rest of Greece, or in the even closer San Marino, while for an alternative Croatia, one can set one’s sights on the natural wonders of the interior, perhaps venturing into the nearby mountains of Slovenia, the Carpathians, Romania or Moldavia. The perfect settings for alternating sun & sea with nature excursions close by are Formentera, Ibiza and Gran Canaria or the very green Portugal. On the southern shore, Algeria offers a different perspective of the Mediterranean and the Sahara, along with the oases and unique landscapes of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, the desert city of Salt in Jordan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the kaleidoscopic plunge of Israel and the rock churches of the Caucasus in Georgia or Armenia.

Nature, history and culture are waiting for those who are ready to fly a few extra hours, for example to Thailand where you can experience a real organic farm 30 minutes from the beach in Pateng. On the Indian subcontinent, you can cruise along the river through the lush nature of Kerala. Halfway to Africa, Mauritius stands out for its combination of sea, landscapes and multiple cultures. On the continent, Senegal is one of the must-visit destinations of the year, from the natural parks of Sine Saloum to the great Lake Retba, along with Namibia with its unspoilt beaches and the incredible Kalahari desert with the half-buried “ghost town” of Kolmanskop.

On the other side of the world, emerging offers in the Americas include the new entry Nicaragua with its rain forests that preserve 7% of the world’s biodiversity, with neighboring Costa Rica, Ceará in Brazil with its emerald sea, forests and impressive waterfalls, or Uruguay with trekking and horseback riding in the pampas and photographic whaling safaris in the ocean, alongside slow holiday classics in the Southern Cone such as Peru, Bolivia, Galapagos and Patagonia and destinations suspended between wilderness and bustling metropolises, such as Argentina. Further north, in the Caribbean, the tropical paradises of Cuba are also presented from a responsible perspective.

Supply chain players make a comeback

In the Tourism Collection the desire to relaunch the sector is even more evident, with the arrival or reconfirmation of many big names among the major industry stakeholders. Of particular note is the presence of carriers including the debut, if not the return with a new look, of ITA Airways, which is presenting new connections, and the participation of international companies including Air Europa, Air India, Eva Air and Fly Dubai. Trenitalia, with its network of high-speed lines considered among the best in the world, and Trenord involved in an extensive renewal process of regional transport in Lombardy, will also be present at BIT 2023.

The Tour Operator portfolio is also very rich, combining, as usual, big names with the most interesting niches. The latter include proposals such as Australis or Ave del Sol from Latin America, Nordic Unique Travel, D Travel or Whale2Sea from Europe; Shiruq, Mamberto, Rephouse, Compagnia del relax in Italy. The top players gathered in the ASTOI Village include names such as, Alidays, Alpitour, Costa Crociere, Eden Viaggi, Futura Vacanze, Gastaldi Holidays, Guiness Travel, Idee Per Viaggiare, Isola Azzurra Viaggi, Kel 12, Meridiano Viaggi, Naar, Nicolaus Tour, Ota Viaggi, Quality Group, Hotelturist-Th Resort, Turisanda, Veratour, Viaggi Del Mappamondo. Among the associations also worth mentioning is FTO – Federazione Turismo Organizzato (Organized Tourism Federation).

In the hôtellerie section, the names of Belstay Hotel, Best Western Italia, Blu Hotels, GB Hotels, Geco, and Space Hotels, among others, stand out. To complement the Leisure part, the best of Business Travel will be presented in the dedicated MICE Village area, while the BeTech area will present the proposals for the digital transition of some of the most interesting and dynamic companies in the sector.

Increasingly attentive travelers prefer a tourism based on environmentally friendly criteria and, at the same time, ethically and socially fair treatment of local communities. Based on this conviction, BIT has also started the process of measuring the CO2 emissions resulting from all phases of the event’s life cycle, through the LCA (Life-cycle Assessment) approach, with the objective of undertaking targeted efficiency-boosting actions and reducing the environmental impacts generated. The initiative, which is part of the Group’s broader Sustainability Plan, confirms Fiera Milano’s commitment to make an active contribution to the event decarbonization process, in line with the Global Net Carbon Zero Events initiative objectives.

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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.