Italy eyes the future

Exclusive Interview: Maria Elena Rossi, director of Marketing and Promotion, ENIT – Italian National Tourist Board

While the past year has been more than difficult for the global tourism industry, with Italy one of the first to be hit hard, all eyes are now pointed to the future. We spoke to Maria Elena Rossi, Director of Marketing and Promotion, ENIT – Italian National Tourist Board, and asked her to give us an overview of how her organisation has been dealing with the current situation.

Media relations are crucial in times of crisis management, together with monitoring the sentiment and the news on all media and conversations, online and offline. Providing reliable information concerning the development of the pandemic, the safety measures of the Italian destinations and the tourism industry has been a priority for the restart of travel in summer 2020, in particular for Italy as one of the world’s leading destinations. Trust, accountability and reliability are more than ever crucial in re-establishing consumer confidence. When the borders were opened on June 3rd, 2020, as the first European country, we started a global cross-media campaign, “Travel to Italy”, focusing on safe experiences in our country, with a diversified approach in three catchment areas: domestic, European and long-haul. On the domestic market, we focused the message on key values such as sustainability and responsibility, as most Italian regions have invested in tourism communication on the domestic market. On the European market, the call to action was focused on safe Italian summer experiences. For the long-haul markets, the message was inspirational. With our digital campaigns, we have reached over 1.2bn views. Finally, we developed a branded content campaign in major international magazines dedicated to Italian art cities, aiming at the high-end contemporary traveller, to reposition Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence, together with cities such as Genoa, Turin, Parma, Bologna, Palermo, Bari, Naples, to mention a few.

How are you communicating on a global level now and what will your strategy be in the short to mid-term?

Our short-term strategy is in line with our 2020 approach, very flexible and alert, on the basis of the development of safety and sanitary management and opportunities of market openings in the coming months. We have an “always on” cross-media communication activity, based on the 3 catchment areas we have identified. The message is both reassuring and inspiring and will be increasingly strong as the bookings for the summer holidays will start in different markets. We are mostly expecting travellers from Europe, UK and Ireland. In the mid-term, we are supporting the restart of air traffic and we will be hosting World Routes in Milan in Q3. We are partnering with the major travel companies and associations in the main long-haul source markets for a 2022 restart.

Will the COVID crisis bring about any permanent change in your activities? If so, what?
Hybrid events, artificial intelligence for visitor management and touchless technologies for safe and seamless travel are innovations that will stay after the COVID crisis. Also, multi-generational travellers, smaller groups, outdoor and more customised experiences and a sustainable approach to mobility and travel behaviour are trends that have been accelerated and will be further developed in coming years. Finally, the travel stop has raised awareness of the crucial role of the tourism industry for communities and economic development in many countries and the importance to balance growth with sustainability.

ENIT – official representative of Italy’s regions 

ENIT promotes Italy as a global tourist destination both by marketing the different regions and destinations and by developing a sustainable and balanced distribution throughout the year. Their strategy is focused on value growth, which implies market segmentation, investments both in leisure and the meeting industry, and stronger support for areas with potential. Special interests such as cycling, hiking, golfing and, in general, active holidays are growing fast and are consistent with the sustainable development and value growth of Italian tourism in the Alps, the Apennines and the Italian Islands.