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The tourism industry: culture, environment, innovation, development

Venice, 11/10/2019 - 13/10/2019, Aspen Seminars for Leaders

Globalization and technology have radically changed the tourism industry over the last decade. The processes of globalization have led to a dramatic increase in demand that has resulted in the two-fold effect of lower travel costs and increased connections that has made travel accessible to a growing number of people across the globe. At the same time, technology has made it possible for everyone to read and publish their reviews on where they have been in real time. The importance of the tourism sector, which accounted for 13.2% of national GDP in 2018 and represents 14.9% of Italian jobs, calls for reflection on how the Italian economic system is facing the challenges of globalization and technology so as to begin to outline an approach to future development.

A point of departure is the awareness that not only has the face of tourism changed in recent years, but there has also been a shift in the preferences of tourists who now see their arrival point not as the final endpoint of their journey but rather as a framework within which to enjoy a range of experiences. The creation then of a 360°experience requires the concerted involvement not only of the public and private sectors, but also of the various regional bodies that, following the reform of Title V of the Constitution, hold exclusive legal authority in matters of tourism. This has made necessary, for example, the establishment of national level policies that dictate tourism guidelines and centralize the collection and analysis of data in order to be able to create those experiences that tourists are expecting.

While policies are needed to facilitate planning, the onus is on individual regions to implement concrete measures for carrying out those plans. Infrastructure and services, in fact, are key factors in the success of a strategy that has to be carried out locally in order to ensure sector growth. Nevertheless, in implementing these measures, local administrators must strike the right balance between tourists’ needs and those of the resident population. The goal is a sustainable tourism that develops in a gradual and controlled manner that enriches rather than damages the local population over the long term.

A properly developed tourism not only can have a positive impact on the Italian economy but can become a decisive factor in promoting the Italian brand and the values that underpin our culture. Indeed, tourism is an exceptional “soft power” tool that if correctly used can improve Italy’s image and consequently strengthen the country’s influence on the international stage. Each tourist must be given the opportunity to have an experience so positive that he or she has the potential to become a “spokesperson” for the Italian nation and culture once they return home.