MILAN - A steady flow of visitors greeted the in-person return of BIT 2022, Italy’s leading tourism exhibition, which closed at fieramilanocity: three days of intense networking and new product presentations, characterised by the quality of exhibitors’ proposals and highly profiled buyers.
Quality that has increasingly taken shape in futuristic trends, such as the metaverse and space travel, as well as with the confirmation for the upcoming season of slow, ethical and sustainable tourism. This year's top trends include walking, from spiritual walks to nature walks, and the cycling tourism comeback, active and outdoor vacations with a touch of luxury and glamour, like glamping. As strong as always is the food and drink tourism trend, combined with exploring villages and history and culture.
Destinations focus on open air
“This return to in-person went very well for us,” explains the Councillor for Tourism, Sport and Entertainment of the Sicilian Region, Manlio Messina, “particularly for our experiential ideas. Starting from the common theme of food and drink, we created cultural and musical itineraries and events, all rooted in history, such as the Sicilia Jazz Festival which promotes the legacy of the first musician to record a jazz record, the American with Sicilian origins, Nick LaRocca.”
Even among foreign destinations, the mood tends towards promoting sustainable and responsible tourism. Affirms Heitor Kadri, Overseas Operation Manager of the Brazilian International Tourism Promotion Agency: “The Italian market is one of our priorities. International tourism is focusing more and more on nature and exploration, and, in this area, Brazil has a lot to offer. But also in history and culture: expressly for BIT, we created a special tour of 10 cities with a strong Italian heritage.”
Operators are ready with new proposals
One of the latest additions this year was the ASTOI Village which brought over 20 leading tour operators together in one space.
“BIT was an opportunity to look to the future after long years of waiting. It was satisfying to see partners, suppliers, clients, journalists and trades all present, a sign of the desire to rediscover a normality that involves meeting up and human and professional relationships,” commented Alessandro Seghi, Sales Director Tour Operating Division of Alpitour World.
“Here we presented our new holiday villages in Sardinia, the Veraclub Amasea and the Veraclub Cala Ginepro with significant feedback” adds Stefano Pompili, General Manager of Veratour. “The success of this exhibition may be an excellent steppingstone into the summer season: despite the challenges, we’re convinced that 2022 will be a decisive year in getting back to figures we saw three years ago."
"The desire to travel is back, as confirmed by the trend of two-week bookings,” Leonardo Massa, Managing Director of MSC Cruises, concludes for the other operators. “Here at BIT we offered a summer with all 19 ships in operation, which MSC World Europa and MSC Seascape will be added to in the coming months.”
Buyers seeking out new experiences
Even from the buyers' point of view there is great satisfaction with the in-person return and the focus on the more original proposals.
Rena Keberlinskaya of Quintessentially Travel (Azerbaijan) comments: “We're here to look for new products, particularly exploring new regions of Italy. Our company mixes a variety of experiences, from leisure to business to incentive, and here I’ve found interesting proposals within all these segments.”
“This is my first time attending,” adds Youssef Hassam of Adrenaline (Dubai), “and I’m very impressed with the quality of the exhibitors and the variety of the range on offer. One of our specialisations is adventure travel. Our customers are asking us for hiking and outdoor trekking, which is a relative first for our market.”
“Our company does a lot of business travel and having a MICE Village was a huge help for us in finding the suppliers we were interested in. We came here not only for Italy, but also for Western Europe in general and the Nordic countries,” concludes Liviu Morariu of Congress Bookers (UK).