The Christmas holidays have just finished but the tourism industry already calculated that the number of visitors in Rome rose by about 4%, compared with the same period last year. And for the whole of 2013 things went even better than that with a 5,3% increase (total: 12.6 mln annual visitors) from 2012 and longer average stays.
Not a new trend for Rome which has seen the number of tourists steadily rising despite the international economic crisis. What is new is the increase of Italian visitors (total: 5.3 mln), stronger than foreigners’ (total 7.3 mln), probably due to the difficult economic times of many Italians who find more convenient a weekend or short holiday in Rome than in Paris or London. Not only for the price but also for the very interesting arts and culture scene that Italy’s capital offers.
However, many tourism operators highlight that religious tourists, pilgrims spend less than the average traveler. Latin Americans in particular spend very little and choose out of Rome accommodations to save even more.
The prospects for 2014 look good. A few unofficial data suggest that purchases by foreigners in the first few days of the winter sales (from January 4) posted double-digit increases, in the 10-15% range. And the Roman malls near Fiumicino/Leonardo da Vinci airport have largely benefited from this new trend.
Another key moment will be the last week of April. On the 27th there will be the canonization of two popes, John Paul II and John XXIII, with an expected surge of pilgrims from all over the world for this double, unprecedented event.
Giving a look to the air transport situation, things should also improve here. Our flag carrier Alitalia is very close to being bought by Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, while the biggest low cost airlines, Ryanair, Easyjet and Vueling are all expanding their connections and introducing new routes in particular from Rome’s major airport, Fiumicino.