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BIT 2014 launched Expo 2015, a springboard for Italian tourism

A multitude of professional visitors flockED to this year’s Bit exhibition. Operators rrived from all the Italian regions, Lazio and Sicily are back again, also in a regional role.

MILAN – Once again, a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony, conducted by Minister of Cultural Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism, Massimo Bray, added an official touch to the proceedings and highlighted the huge importance of the 34th Bit – International Tourism Exchange, in progress at the Fieramilano fairground in Rho until 15th February, in encouraging tourism to adopt a systematic approach, a fact emphasized by the presence of a multitude of trade professionals.

Having often been aired, this need to adopt a systematic approach will at last have a unique opportunity to be put to the test at the Universal Exposition being staged in Milan next year. This is the message that launched the opening conference, “The Tourism Industry gets ready for Expo 2015” which, in addition to Minister Bray, was attended by the President of the Lombardy Region, Roberto Maroni, the Mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, the President of the Milan Provincial Authority, Guido Podestà, the Government’s Representative for Expo 2015, Giuseppe Sala, the President of Confcommercio, Carlo Sangalli and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani, who were the speakers after Michele Perini, President of Fiera Milano S.p.A. and Piero Galli, General Manager of the Event Management Division of Expo 2015, who gave a technical presentation.

“By focusing on EXPO, Bit has made an important choice,” commented Bray. “Tourism may well prove to be the main lever for economic recovery. We are aiming to regain our share of the international market and increase the sector’s contribution to the GDP to 180 billion euro. EXPO will be a crucial factor in achieving this”.

The signs are encouraging: EXPO 2015 has already beaten its own record in terms of both the number of countries participating -142 so far and still rising- and the number of countries which will have their own hall, of which there are 60 so far. An innovative approach can also be seen in the way that the countries attending are being grouped together: no longer based on geographical areas but on thematic clusters which exploit the similarities of each product sector in the best possible way, making the route more appealing to visitors. The surveys conducted on international markets suggest that the target of 6-8 million foreign visitors will probably be exceeded: the impressive extra-European component includes at least one million tourists from China alone. There has also been a positive response to the ticketing strategy, which has already generated the signing of approximately 170 contracts with key international tour operators. Here again, it looks as if the original target of 600 resellers will be exceeded.

In this great drive to relaunch Italian tourism, Bit 2014 is playing a key role. And it has made an important contribution by making profound and innovative changes to improve B2B. In addition to a new business event designed specially for this exhibition, Bit BuyExpo 2015, the traditional Bit BuyItaly and Bit BuyClub workshops have been revolutionized, and the investment in international hosted buyers has doubled. This time there were over 1,000 hosted buyers, of whom 54% were attending for the first time, tangible proof that the international appeal of this year’s show is greater than ever before. A Business Village and a hi-tech free matching system, which became active before the event, have done a great deal to bring the demand and the offering together in an even more effective way.

The response of the trade professionals has been positive, too. The massive influx of operators from all the Italian regions confirms Bit’s leadership in the incoming market and, in particular, the return of such key regions as Lazio and Sicily, which have joined the other regions attending the exhibition: Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Venetia, Emilia Romagna, Marche, Tuscany, Umbria, Puglia, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria and Sardinia.

Bit 2014 is also stepping up its strategic role in the international scenario, with representatives attending from 100 countries around the world. More particularly, it is seen as a benchmark by some of the more dynamic emerging markets: new-entry destinations this year included Armenia, the Czech Republic, Georgia and Latvia in Europe; Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and São Tomé and Príncipe in Africa; Guadeloupe and Nicaragua in the Americas.

Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.