Do you remember the tourism tax so many people wrote and complained about in January? Its impact was nil. Well, we never posted anything on it as we knew it was a marginal issue and we thought it was used by some just to shed a bad light on Rome. The summer is well on and we are happy to read data and estimates that confirm 2011 was a great year for Rome’s tourism sector.
Of course the world economic and financial crisis is hitting hard everywhere, especially in Italy, but the travel business is recovering fast from 2009’s lows. It might sound weird that in such difficult days for this country, with Italian stocks and bonds plunging into desperation, we highlight the very good performance of the tourism sector in Rome but Italy is not just finance and yields!
Let’s start with the hard data. The first half of 2011, according to the official figures provided by the Bilateral Tourism Office of Lazio, arrivals rose by a staggering 9,61% from the same period in 2010 and forecasts for July and August point to a 9% increase in Italy’s Capital. Russians, Chinese and Americans have so far posted the biggest advances compared with last year: up by 12-to-15%.
But there is a minus most probably due to the world economic slump, travelers in Rome spent less this year less than last. The average budget fell by around 10% to 120 euros on a daily basis (Russians are the top-spenders: 190 euros per day), with bed & breakfasts on the rise thanks to their moderate prices compared to high-end hotels (+13% in July and August).
A big test for Rome and surroundings comes in a few weeks as September and October are peak months for tourism here. One of the main designers of Rome’s Second District of Attractions, Mauro Cutrufo had to quit the City government but Rome will most likely continue to focus her energies in building a whole set of new landmarks in the recreation, congress, golf and shopping fields trying to attract people who are not particularly interested in art, archeology, religion, culture and history.
The recent inauguration of Rainbow MagicLand, the theme park in Valmontone, is a good sign. Rome is more and more aware that she has to diversify her offer in order to appeal to a larger world public. When the Roman Empire recreation park and the Cinema one in Cinecittà will also be finished, a major shift in the tourism trends of the Eternal City may start and the travel figures of London and Paris will not be seen as unattainable anymore. It’s a medium term process. In September 2013 we will also know whether this city will host the 2020 Olympic Games. That might definitely be the turning point.