(Virtual Press Office) -- Italy has an enviable base of assets that gives it a strong and long-term competitive edge in the tourist industry. It is by no coincidence that the contribution tourism makes to the GDP amounts to over EUR 130 billion, which is about 9% of all national production. But even if we were to take leave of a strictly domestic context, we would find that the tourist industry accounts for 9% of world GDP.

The trend should move continuously upward according to forecasts, due to the contribution of emerging economies such as Asia and South America.

Even so, Italy has lost considerable market shares and has recorded 2% a year over the last decade, compared to the approximately 8% of the global market. The chief elements that led to this backward shift are aging of the supply, the accommodation facilities and the infrastructure/transport system; the failure to adopt international management standards; insufficient focus on the emerging segments and digital channels; and the low priority given to the sector (investments, regulations and taxation, public image, training, etc.).

The national's ability to attract tourists appears to be almost totally concentrated in the cities of art, a true driving force of Italy's domestic tourist offer.

More specifically, the five leading regions (Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, Tuscany, Lazio and Lombardy) generated 91% of the growth over the last decade (2000-2010) due to the "four top cities" (Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan), the Dolomites and Lake Garda.

Backing this statistics is the fact that of the 375 million nights spent in the country's tourist accommodation facilities, roughly 55% comes precisely from the cities of art, while the South Italy regions are unable to grow significantly (although they have architectural and landscape assets second to none), so they recorded just 5% of total economic growth during the last decade.

The January 2013 Observatory of the Associazione Italiana Confindustria Alberghi (Italian Association of Hotels) reported a decrease in hotel performance indicators in a few of the major Italian markets compared to the same period of the previous year. With regard to the Employment Rate, the Observatory announced strongly negative figures in the cities of Bergamo (-11.2%), Verona (-9.2%) and Turin (-7.5%). The only city conspicuously fighting the trend appears to be Naples. However, today's figure is set against a particularly critical figure generated by the city's waste crisis of the past.

Clear downturns of the RevPar were also recorded in cities such as Verona (-19.3%), Bergamo (-16.4%), Genoa (-12.5%), Turin (-6.9%) and Milan (-2.3%), while the results of the other Italian markets remain constant.

Decreased stays at seaside tourist facilities are also noticed, conflicting with a positive trend (8.2%) affecting the Mediterranean Basin countries.

Other European countries have overtaken Italy also in terms of "productivity" per bed. While the average number of nights in Italy is about 109, France totals 190 nights.

It should however be noted that in spite of the macroeconomic crisis on the global level, investments in the hotel sector last year reached EUR 8.5 billion (even if down 4% compared to 2011). The more liquid European markets were the United Kingdom (EUR 2.3 billion), France (EUR 1.7 billion), and Germany (EUR 1.2 billion).

Paris and London particularly proved they are the cities best able to attract major foreign capital, reaching the point of representing 40-50% of total investments in the countries of reference.

Hotel purchases were for the most part made by institutional investors, which reached 24% of total investments in 2012.

What clearly emerges from this picture is that the tourist industry can act as a driving force for the economic growth of Italy in view of its undisputed potential that has not yet been fully developed if backed by a strategic and incisive infrastructural tourist development plan.

The Italian market therefore seems to be highly promising from the tourist real estate viewpoint, and this is why Assoimmobiliare - real estate industry association member of Confindustria (association of Italian industries) - and Associazione Italiana Confindustria Alberghi (AICA) have signed an agreement, with the aim of increasing the appeal of the country's tourist accommodation facilities.

Convinced that the revival of this crucial sector is one of the keys to the nation's economic revival, and that this is possible only if the purely tourist component of the business coordinates with the real estate component in the broadest sense of the word, the two associations have created a laboratory for fuelling the comparison. The project sets out to analyse the state of the sector and to produce in-depth analyses and ideas for improving the standards, also in order to encourage private enterprises to seize the prospective opportunities that turn up in the area of public property improvements and divestments.

Laura Spillare
Segreteria di Direzione

Associazione dell'Industria Immobiliare
tel. 06.3212271 - fax 06.3219534
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