The 2023 summer season of open-air tourism is set to be record-breaking, with a predicted 56.6 million visitors in the months of June, July, August and September, which is an increase of 2% compared to 2022 (55.5 million) and 1% compared to 2019 (55.9 million). This year is an ideal chance to consolidate and build on the tourist flows recorded in summer 2022, but will also represent one of the best in the last 10 years, second only to 2017 (57.9 million). The foreign market looks particularly promising: it is estimated that it will make up 51% of the market, becoming a driving force and demonstrating international visitors' desire to travel and to cross borders towards the Mediterranean, particularly Italy. The Italian market, which represents the remaining 49%, is stable and in line with 2021 and 2022; although travellers have a propensity for holidays outside their home country, economic factors such as increased expenses, inflation and increased transport costs could encourage Italians to stay within their national borders.
The above is the main data that emerged from the Outdoor Tourism Observatory from Human Company in collaboration with THRENDS, a company specialising in analysis and strategies in the tourism & hospitality sector.
"Now in its sixth edition, the Outdoor Tourism Observatory is a valuable source of information and an opportunity to interpret the demand flows and trends in the Italian and foreign markets," explained Domenico Montano, Human Company's General Manager. "2023 will be a record-breaking summer for open-air tourism, one of the best in the last decade, a clear sign that this form of accommodation is becoming increasingly mainstream for both Italians, for whom it is no longer a necessity post-pandemic, and foreigners, who have always loved this style of holiday and are excited to return to Italy. Our form of hospitality is built on several key elements: investing in quality, taking care of guests and respecting their time, prioritising sustainability, and staying in tune with the local area. These values play a vital role in our growth, helping us to advance our position in the travel industry in Italy. We were happy to continue our work on the Outdoor Tourism Observatory, in collaboration with THRENDS, as we believe it represents an important tool for the entire supply chain, providing a comprehensive overview of the world of outdoor tourism."
"After the difficult hiatus due to Covid-19, 2022 offered some breathing space for the outdoor sector, which had actually proved very resilient over the previous two years. In fact, the Observatory's estimates for summer 2022 proved to be overly cautious, and last summer exceeded the forecasts by 12%. These results restored a sense of optimism across the sector and put open-air holidays back in the spotlight. This year, the general perception of geopolitical instability has led us to view 2023 with a cautious outlook, but the scenario we have identified is still generally positive. Ultimately, 2023 could be the best year of the recent decade," noted Giorgio Ribaudo, Managing Director at THRENDS.
FROM HIGH PRICES TO RISING AVERAGE FARES: AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE DRIVERS
Accurate estimates require a thorough analysis of the key factors arising from the current macroeconomic context. For example, expensive fuel results in increased travel prices, making it more onerous for travellers to plan long journeys; the air and train fares for the summer have already been affected. Consumer price growth across the board, in addition to rising energy and utilities costs due to inflation, impacts travellers' spending but not their desire to travel. The growth in average fares (in all accommodation sectors) shapes the competition on the market, and can influence holiday plans in terms of the duration and chosen options. Climate change, which is causing rising temperatures and more sunny days, makes months like June and September more attractive for travellers. However, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine should have a lower impact compared to the summer of 2022. At the current phase of the conflict, it should not affect the travel propensity of foreign markets, particularly those bordering or close to Ukraine. Sentiments regarding the pandemic are also extremely different from last summer, as the near-total absence of restrictions may drive travellers to plan trips to distant destinations instead of closer choices.
A PREVIEW OF 2023
To prepare the forecasts for summer 2023, the Observatory team had to rebuild the 2022 data for each region of Italy: thanks to the support from the Regional Statistics Offices, the report includes a preview of the 2022 results (defined as "provisional") for the outdoor sector, which are not yet available from ISTAT. The numbers show that 2022 saw a return to pre-2020 levels, with outdoor sector visitors totalling 66.1 million over the course of the year, which is just 1.1% lower than 2019. Furthermore, Italy was the second European market for guests in 2022, behind only France. However, these numbers do not reflect a complete recovery, as the national segment is still in line with 2021 levels (down 9% from 2019), while the foreign segment was up 40% from 2021 and 3% from 2019. This comeback highlights the general trust in open-air holidays, especially among foreign tourists.