Italy is hoping that continued growth in niche travel cultural,
gastronomical, event-oriented will produce a successful year for
The number of requests for information has increased from the
recent low point the start of the war with Iraq. But, cautioned
Enzo Colombo, the Italian Government Tourism Board’s travel
commissioner for the Western United States, “There could be another
crisis, another SARS we don’t know. It’s too early in the season to
give estimates. But we are confident we are going where we want to,
promoting the lesser-known destinations.”
As a marketing tool for travel agents and tour operators, the
tourism board is offering a new service e-mail postcards which can
be sent free to clients or prospective travelers.
The cards, which feature such landmarks as a nighttime photo of
the Arena Opera Festival amphitheater in Verona and a Napolitano
pizza, are on www.italiantourism.com.
This season, the tourism is touting a number of tours, places
and events. Gastronomic tours, already popular in Tuscany, are
beginning to lure travelers to other regions, Colombo said. And, as
an offshoot, demand is growing for agri-tours, he said, adding, “A
product very popular is hiking and biking, combined with a stay in
“The sophisticated traveler is our target now,” Colombo said. A
traditional destination, Pisa and its Leaning Tower, has had a
resurgence, now that the tower has been repaired and reopened on a
limited basis to small groups.
The tourism board is also heavily promoting Rome’s new
Auditorium Parco della Musica, the largest concert facility in
Europe, which was designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano.
It has a full schedule of indoor and outdoor musical events,
festivals, opera and high-profile concerts. “The impact on the
musical world has been tremendous,” Colombo said.
Meanwhile, the 50th Venice Biennale, one of the world’s most
important international contemporary art shows, is opening to the
public June 15 and will continue through Nov. 2.
“In terms of numbers, I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a record
year. But in terms of an increase in demand over the last three
months, definitely there is that,” Colombo said.
Italy had a record 4 million tourists in 2000. It was on track
to match or top that number in 2001, but, after the jolt of 9/11,
it ended up with 3.7 million. Colombo is hopeful that this year
will match or beat last year’s 3.3-million tally.
The board has offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. For
travel agents: 310-820-6357. And, for the public: 310-820-1898.