Flexible, sustainable and safe: thanks to its intrinsic characteristics, the open-air sector has been able to earn and win the trust of Italians in recent years. Credit also goes to its capacity to evolve, intercepting the needs and demands of new target groups. While the pandemic has brought people closer to the idea of a more responsible proximity tourism, the sector has been able to transform itself to offer quality services and all kinds of comforts. So much so, that outdoor holidays seem to be the post-Covid essential for Italians: two out of three, in fact, admit that since the start of the pandemic, their desire for outdoor holidays has increased.
This is the starting point for the new edition of the Outdoor Tourism Observatory created by ENIT – Italian National Tourist Board and Human Company, the most important company with Italian capital in the open-air segment. A trend that is also confirmed for the 2022 summer season, which seems to have all the makings of being on a par with that of 2019, if not exceeding it.
Carried out in June using a qualitative-quantitative method on a representative sample of the Italian population, the research investigated Italians' penchant for summer holidays, forecasts of outdoor holidays for the summer of 2022 and the determining factors for their choice of holiday.
The forecasts for summer 2021
The survey estimates that for summer 2022, more than one in two Italians (52%) have planned a holiday. Of these, one-fifth are planning to visit an outdoor facility, with villages and farm holidays in the lead, followed by camping and mountain lodges. Among those inclined to take a holiday, the open-air tourist is not only the most loyal (82% say they are ready to go) but also the most inclined to extend their stay: for 24% of the outdoor tourists, the holiday will last longer, while for the others, it will remain unchanged.
As far as the destination is concerned, Italy is confirmed as the favourite again this year with 85% of preferences. On the podium of the regions are Sicily and Apulia ex aequo on the top rung (13%), followed by Tuscany (9%) and Emilia-Romagna (8%). Sardinia, Calabria and Trentino-Alto Adige also performed very well (7%).
As for the destinations and the period, 67% of those planning a holiday will choose the sea, 17% the mountains and 14% cities and art resorts mainly in August, which is confirmed as the dominant month (for 53% of Italians, this is the period chosen for their holidays) with a significant share in September (14%).
While it is not surprising that economic reasons (38%) are the main reasons for going without a holiday, it is surprising that Covid remains rather marginal, with only 5% of respondents stating that they were not travelling for fear of catching the disease. The economic crisis and inflation are also the main factors for choosing a holiday for seven out of ten Italians, followed by flexible rates, which protect against financial losses (61%) and a good number of last-minute offers (43%). According to the survey, about a quarter of holiday-makers wait to book closer to the date: the percentage is the same among both the inclined (22%) and the outdoor tourists (24%). Among the booking channels, the direct method prevails, with 53% of respondents stating that they have booked or intend to book by contacting the establishment directly. Only 25% mentioned OLTAs and 13% traditional travel agencies or tour operators.
"The new perspectives offered by the outdoors make it possible to fully experience unexpected spaces in new ways. The historical context has trained us to live the travel experience in revised ways, responding also to the need to reinforce the sense of respect for the natural environment and enabling the enjoyment of the travel experience to be enhanced. Open-air tourism lays the foundations to consolidate itself more and more in today's tourism scenarios. 2022 is an ideal year to once again intercept flows from overseas, which represent one of the main basins of origin of adventure travelers, and one of the most active in terms of presence of tour operators specialised in this market" said Roberta Garibaldi, ENIT Managing Director.
According to Domenico Montano, General Manager of Human Company: "The survey confirms the Group's forecasts, which promises to be a positive season with a performance level better than pre-Covid figures. To date, we estimate 40% more attendees than in 2021 and a 15% growth on the 2019 season for all villages. The seaside is confirmed as the favourite destination, especially for Italians, but we are also registering an upturn in tourism in the cities of art, where we are present with our "camping in town" facilities, no longer experienced as simple places to stay overnight but as ways to also visit the area out of season".
Livio Gigliuto, Vice President of Istituto Piepoli commented "Outdoors, convenient, Italian. The identikit of the Italians' holiday for the summer of 2022 is pretty well defined. Italians are looking primarily for seaside resorts, seeking them in Italy, and are looking for wide-open spaces to evade the risks of infection. The preference for open-air holidays, which had initially appeared to be merely a response to the pandemic, has quickly become a new staple of Italian holidays and is likely to remain so for years to come".