Media Area

Italy Sets a Record for Business Trips, Outperforming Spain at European Level

14 May 2024
Italy Sets a Record for Business Trips, Outperforming Spain at European Level







Italy appeals to German travellers, with business travel ranking the country as top European destination for conference tourism and second in the world after the United States.

This emerges from IMEX, the sector’s most important MICE trade fair, in Frankfurt, where ENIT is attending with its Italian stand, accompanied by the Alto Adige, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Lazio, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont, Sicily, Tuscany and Veneto regions as well as the cities of Milan and Rome, to steer and present its new offering for the conference tourism and meetings industry together with no less than 86 suppliers.

Sustainability is increasingly important, not only at trade fairs but across the entire MICE sector, and many suppliers have adapted accordingly in various ways, involving regional partners with local products, eco-friendly use of resources and the circular economy.

Italy offers everything, from culinary experiences and unusual activities to infrastructures that are well equipped to make business trips an experience and a success, whether for conferences, meetings, events, incentives or other business trips. From corporate events with numerous participants to customised incentives - featuring activities in nature or in one of the picturesque cities of art, for instance - Italy is an ideal destination for MICE, being easily accessible and suitable for all types of business travel thanks to a wide range of services and products. It is no coincidence that Italy is also one of the most popular destinations for Bleisure, since people who experience the beautiful surroundings during business trips are keen to stay longer.

“Italy is the European leader for conference tourism and ranks second worldwide. This remarkable achievement testifies to the nation’s commitment and credibility at global level. The choice of Italy as a venue for international conferences proves it to be sought-after not only by traditional tourists but also those attending events of this kind. This positive process generates a virtuous circle that benefits the entire tourism sector and enhances our international reputation,” says Tourism Minister Daniela Santanché.

“Italy is full of surprises, with market segments developing in an increasingly high-performing manner, as confirmed by the ICCA 2023 ranking on conference tourism which places it first in Europe, surpassing even Spain, and second in the world after the United States. Italy is headed up by Rome, climbing the ranking from 14th to 7th, and other landmark cities for international meetings including Milan, Florence, Bologna and Naples. This is also a vote of confidence in ENIT, which is achieving great things in this area through trade fairs, workshops and major international events, creating an increasingly solid network,” comments Alessandra Priante, Chair of ENIT.

“The Italian cities that excel are the ones that have become international benchmarks for business travel and conference hospitality. Our nation has a wealth of potential that is increasingly asserting itself on the international stage. Thanks to the ICCA international ranking, Italy’s global competitiveness will carry even more weight, enabling the country to attract a select, high-end clientele of professionals, experts and decision-makers from all over the world,” says Ivana Jelinic, ENIT’s CEO.

According to ENIT, based on Bank of Italy, DRV and Data Appeal data and a specific survey of ENIT’s overseas branch in 2023, 54.6 million German holidaymakers will make trips of 5 days or more, an increase of +14.2% on the previous year. Travel expenditure (pre-booked services) amounted to 79 billion euros, reaching record levels, up by +27% on 2022 and exceeding the 2019 result by +14%. Of the 65 million long holiday trips (5 days or more) taken by Germans, 22% take place in their home country and 78% abroad: 43.4% to Mediterranean countries, 11.0% to Western Europe, 6.8% to Eastern Europe, 3.6% to Scandinavia and 9.3% to long-distance destinations. Travel agencies sell more than 50% of organised trips, mainly to Mediterranean beach resorts and those on medium- and long-haul routes. Italy continues to be one of the most popular tourist destinations for German travellers (8.2% of holiday trips abroad in 2023), along with other markets such as Spain (14.4%), Turkey (8.2%), Croatia (4.5%) and Greece (4.2%).

In 2023, Germany was confirmed as the number-one country of origin for Italy, with around 12.5 million travellers, accounting for 14.5% of the international total. It also comes out top in terms of tourism expenditure, with more than 8 billion euros, 15.6% of the total income from abroad. People travel to Italy mainly for holidays, and this applies to 53.2% of Germans who travelled to the country in 2023 and around 70.0% of spending. This mainly benefits seaside destinations, which receive 19.0% of tourists, 26.4% of revenues and 30.0% of overnight stays.

These are followed by art cities, accounting for around 13.0% of choices, lakeside resorts (11.3%) and mountain resorts (6.6%). Travellers between the ages of 35 and 44 (33.2%) and between the ages of 45 and 64 (35.1%) are confirmed as regular holidaymakers in Italy, with an incidence of over 30.0% for both. The 25-34 age group represents 18.0% of the clientele, with over-65s at 9.0% and the youngest group (15-24) at 4.3%.

For 2024, 60% of the tour operators contacted in Germany confirm the upward trend in sales to Italy, on average +30%, which had already begun at the end of the previous year.

The remaining 40% of tour operators are evenly split in reporting a decrease (-5%) and a stable situation compared to 2023. In addition to beach destinations (+33%/40%), food and wine-themed tours (+30%) and package tours with car rental in Apulia, Calabria and Basilicata or self-drive specifically to Trentino Alto-Adige, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lake Garda (+27%) are also especially popular. Visits to art cities are still in vogue, and tours to Sicily for small groups are also on the rise. The preference for a medium-high level product is confirmed, with a small selection of facilities offered according to high-quality sustainable criteria (+5%).

From January to May, nearly 187,000 airport passengers were reported arriving in Italy from Germany, placing the confirmed/expected figures up by +4.2% on 2023. Travellers are departing approximately 45 days after booking their trip (via GDS), for a 5-night stay. Due to the spring break holidays, airport arrivals peaked in the last two weeks of April, accounting for 20.0% of the total for the period. From Frankfurt, 7.9% of travellers flew to Rome FCO, which also received 6.5% of flows from Munich, while 6.4% flew to Milan LIN, together with 3.6% of passengers from Düsseldorf. 2.8% of travellers from Frankfurt also flew to Naples and 2.5% to Venice. For the summer quarter, there are currently 50,000 airline bookings from Germany, up +21.5% compared to June-August 2023. The booking window is 120 days for a stay of around a week in Italy. Among the main routes, Rome has confirmed its position as the most sought-after destination for the period, with 12.0% of expected arrivals from Frankfurt and 8.4% from Munich to FCO. Next come Venice (3.9%), Catania (3.4%), Milan LIN (3.3%) and Naples (2.2%), with 12.8% of passengers from Frankfurt distributed across these airports. Milan also receives 2.4% of flows from Hamburg and 2.2% from Düsseldorf.

Francesca Cicatelli

ENIT Press Office

Phone: +39 392 9225216