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Spring prices in Italy: cheaper than other European destinations, debunking the myth of record prices

24 April 2024
Spring prices in Italy: cheaper than other European destinations, debunking the myth of record prices





Spring prices make Italy more competitive than other conventionally low-cost destinations like Greece and Slovenia. Data collected by the ENIT Research Department and Remtene paint a globally attractive picture of the cost of a stay for the week of the spring bank holidays up until 5 May. Indeed, while the average price of a double room in a medium-high rated hotel in the art cities is more affordable than in other European capitals at 244 euros (241 in Spain), and the same goes for the seaside (158 euros in Italy vs. 154 in Slovenia), on the lakes the price of the same double room averages 165 euros compared to 202 in Switzerland. The same is true in the mountains, with an average price of 169 euros in Italy compared to 216 in Switzerland and 200 in Austria. For B&Bs, the competitiveness of the Italian offering is even more marked: in the art cities, Italy is in fourth place after Switzerland (136 euros), Benelux and Austria at 124 euros for a double room, and fourth also for the lakes at 120 euros per room (after Switzerland at 144 euros, the UK and Austria). However, it is at the seaside that Italian prices stand furthest apart, at 107 euros per room compared to123 in Slovenia. Finally, in the mountains too, the price stands at 124 euros compared to 141 in Switzerland and 131 in Austria.

During these two weeks, 293,000 airport travellers are expected in Italy: more than 235,000 international passengers, accounting for 80.3% of the total, plus around 58,000 Italians (19.7%). (Source: ENIT Research Department based on Data Appeal data).

Overall, the booking window for flights (via GDS) is 70 days, for stays of up to nine nights on average.

Analysing the daily data between 21 April and 5 May, the heaviest flow is on 22 April, with around 30,000 arrivals at Italian airports, accounting for 10.2% of the total, followed by the 24th (22,110 arrivals) and 25th of the month (20,793), with a respective incidence of over 7%.

Americans continue to be the most frequent visitors. For the period analysed, some 32,000 airline bookings from the USA to Italy are confirmed (13.3% of all foreign visitors). Flights to Italy are booked 130 days prior to departure, for an average stay of 12 nights. People travel in pairs in 57.6% of cases, while single-passenger bookings account for 24%”.

“Slow tourism travels fast. Promoting it means taking care of the present and, above all, the future of the sector. This segment is not merely a growing trend but has also become a strategic pillar of tourism development for Italy.

Aware of this sector’s centrality to the tourism ecosystem, the Ministry of Tourism has earmarked targeted funding to support it, ranging from 19 million euros for walking trails to 42 million euros for sustainable tourism.

What is more, the Ministry has set up an additional fund of 33 million euros for open-air tourism, another constantly growing segment, for creation and redevelopment of areas equipped for temporary parking. Today more than ever, slow tourism - intrinsically linked to sustainability - represents a competitive advantage for this wonderful country which must be fully exploited in order to attract mindful tourists seeking authentic and sustainable experiences,” says Tourism Minister Daniela Santanchè.

“Visitor numbers are consolidating, Europe is establishing itself as one of our main markets with Germany and France in the lead and, despite unpredictable weather, the trend is to experience open air travel. China is back in fifth place among international visitor countries and all long-haul markets, especially the United States and particularly the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Miami. Tourists stay at least 13 nights, with peak arrivals (10.5%) expected on 27 April. Rome and Milan anticipate, respectively, 11.6% and 10.6% of arrivals from Shanghai and 10.2% and 7.5% of those from Beijing. For passengers from Wenzhou, Milan receives 8.3% while Rome FCO welcomes 6%. Visitors arriving from Germany (7.3%), France (6.0%) and Spain (3.7%) altogether account for 17% of the international airport total, in line with 2023”, says Alessandra Priante, Chair of ENIT.


Saturation of accommodation sold online via OTAs during the spring breaks.

Once again according to data collected by the ENIT Research Department on the Data Appeal dashboard, on average in Italy, across the best-known destinations and the secondary accommodation offering, and just like last year, the art cities have already filled 50% of all their accommodation for the long weekends from 25 April to 1 May (59.4% on short breaks), peaking on 26 April when they reach 60% of total availability.

Whether in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Basilicata, Campania, Sicily or Umbria, long weekend tourists are looking for a cultural experience matching the authenticity of the local area.

Next come stays in the mountains, selling a national average, in line with 2023, of 46.9% (47.8% in hotels and similar) of the accommodation offered on websites. For 26 and 27 April, the average is 55%, particularly in Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Aosta Valley, with Trentino Alto Adige in pole position.

Finally, the lakes, with 46.2% accommodation saturation for OTAs, further increasing on last year (+0.7%) to reach 58% on 26 April.

Tuscany, Veneto, Trentino or Lazio: the Italian lakes are an opportunity to savour holidays with a springtime taste of sun and beach.

The favourite Italian holidays? Sustainable and active breaks

The April and May breaks remain a time for leisure combining a desire for active tourism with discovery of places, cultures and ourselves.

According to the Isnart/Unioncamere survey on Italian and foreign cycling tourists along Italy’s cycle routes, in 2023, cycling tourists chose a holiday on two wheels for cultural reasons (37.1%), in pursuit of natural surroundings (36.4%) or for a holiday including a food and wine experience (25.9%). Their reasons for choosing one cycle route over others are because it is well maintained (one third of cyclists), for the attractiveness of the environment and landscape (26.2%) and from a desire to explore new routes (22.4%). Determining factors in everyone’s choice of destination are the beauty of the landscape, the volume of traffic (84.1%), route accessibility (81%), sustainable and ecological destinations (65.8%) and quality of services (63.5%). The Human Company and Thrends observatory on outdoor tourism estimates further growth on 2023 of +2% in foreigners visitors and +0.3% in domestic tourists for outdoor holidays during the summer months.

Open-air tourism in Europe in 2023 achieved a record turnout of 402.2 million (Eurostat data), 28.4 million more than in 2019 (+8%), marking an all-time high for Europe.

The attractiveness of sustainable holidays in Italy owes its success to the authenticity of its tourist offerings, such as those reported by Legambiente together with ENIT (see attachment).

This side of Italy is therefore just waiting to be explored, just like the numerous paths the country’s regions have preserved through the centuries, such as the Via Francigena which experiences its peak of visitors in April and May: both young (22%) and mature (21.4%), from 55 foreign countries, travelling this route by bicycle (13.8%) but above all on foot (85.2%).

Walking is a growing trend, as demonstrated by qualitative analysis conducted by the Italian Touring Club (TCI) Research Centre on a sample of walking routes representative of different areas of the country, revealing marked optimism among operators that the upcoming 25 April and 1 May breaks will see many walkers on the routes around the Italian Peninsula.

It is not only Italians who will be taking to the road - although a certain willingness among them to head not just to nearby destinations has become evident - but many foreigners as well. Indeed, a recent study by the TCI Research Centre highlighted that, for some European countries monitored (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), Italy is favourite for slow tourism.

It is also noted that, at specific stopping points along the routes, beds are now sold out, highlighting that there is certainly still room for expansion of the local offering - mainly consisting of hotels - to meet the growing demand for walking tourism.

According to evaluations by operators, it will not only be more expert walkers striding out over the next few days but less experienced hikers as well, as demonstrated by the numerous groups that have been set up, a provision enabling a gentler approach to walking and probably reassuring those who might not feel up to embarking on a trip without support from an organisation.

Operators attribute the great success walking tourism is enjoying both to a renewed interest among the public in outdoor activities (something undoubtedly influenced by the Covid experience) but also to considerable investment in promotion by many walking routes, making the offering more visible to a demand that is now certainly more favourably disposed towards this kind of holiday.

Francesca Cicatelli

ENIT Press Office

Phone: +39 392 9225216