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Double-digit growth for Italian conference tourism


Italian conference tourism thrives in 2023, with a 12% rise in events and a significant increase in delegates and attendance, signaling a strong recovery post-COVID and highlighting ongoing industry evolution towards high-quality, diverse venues.

ROME – In line with the positive trend in leisure tourism, Italian conference tourism is also experiencing a very good season: the number of
conferences and business events held in Italy is rising.

This is the picture that emerges from the Italian Survey of Conferences and Events [Osservatorio Italiano dei Congressi e degli Eventi-ICE], the research promoted by the meetings industry association Federcongressi&eventi and conducted by the Graduate School of Economics and International Relations of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – ASERI.

According to the research, a total of 340,057 events were held in Italy in 2023, an increase of 12% from 2022. Delegates totalled 27,152,890 (+28% vs. 2022) and total attendance was 41,835,932 (+31.9% vs. 2022).

All the main indicators for conference tourism therefore show double-digit growth, clearly indicating that, after the halt due to Covid19, companies have again started investing in events, such as conventions, meetings and product launches, viewing them as a marketing and retention tool; for their part, associations, in particular medical-scientific, have returned to congresses as a way of spreading and promoting knowledge and innovation. The positive health of Italian conference tourism is demonstrated by th growth rate of conferences and events, which was 12% in 2023, triple the annual average of 4.1% pre-Covid, and in particular by attendance at events of more than one day, which grew by more than 50% from 2022. Forecasts for the current year are also positive, in terms of growth in both the number of events and revenues.

“The Italian MICE industry is in good health and within this trend, we can see a phase of profound change in the meetings industry,” comments Federcongressi&eventi President Gabriella Gentile. “Events and conference today are increasingly high quality and therefore require cutting-edge venues in terms of services and technology, along with trained and constantly updated staff. At the same time, large tourism flows and the consequent increase in hotel occupancy rates in destinations historically associated with MICE is prompting organisers to choose venues outside the more established circuits for events and conferences, thus promoting the off-season and the relocation of tourism.”

Conferences and events in Italy: where they take place and who organises them
  • Most conferences and events, 59%, were held in the North, 24.7% in Central Italy, 10.2% in the South and 6.1% in the Islands.
  • In terms of event venues, conference hotels remained the most popular and hosted 77.8% of total events.
  • Conference centres and trade fair conference venues hosted 3.1%of events: they are the type of venue with the highest growth since 2022 in both number of days (+33.9%) and attendance (+54.7%). Non-hotel historical residences (abbeys, castles, old inns and farmhouses, historic buildings, villas, etc.) hosted 2.5% of events.
  • In terms of promoters, companies organised the majority of events, 66.3%, up 13.5 points from the previous survey, while associations remained in second place, accounting for 22.3% of events.

Finally, as regards delegates’ origin, with the restrictions due to the pandemic having been lifted, international events (i.e. those with a significant number of delegates coming from abroad) and national events (with delegates mainly from outside the region) resumed, although about half of events and conferences remain local in scope, as in previous years (with delegates mainly from the same region in which the
event is held).

Scientific Head of the Survey Roberto Nelli, lecturer in marketing at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore commented: “The research results highlight two fundamental aspects of the Italian meetings industry. First, the development of conference and event venues, which testifies to the process of change taking place within the structure of the offer, which is progressively reshaping itself to adapt to changing market demand. Secondly, the vibrancy of the regions, which are increasingly leveraging their cultural vocation – think of the municipalities that fall within the “Grande Bellezza” [Great Beauty] cluster, home to the 44% of venues that host 54% of the total number of event delegates in Italy – and the various manufacturing specialisations of local networks, from "Made in Italy" (which, with 22% of venues, hosts 19% of event delegates) to urban systems with a high degree of specialisation in service activities, in which 18% of venues are located, accounting for 27% of total delegates, a clear sign of how much the meetings industry can contribute to the development of businesses from the perspective of the network economy.”

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.