Vendola at BIT: “Puglia is now a global tourism brand”

MILAN (ANSA) ‒ Puglia held up better than the rest of Italy in tourism in 2013: the region has increased its share of the foreign market with a 2% increase in visitor arrivals and a 5% increase in overnight stays. The region also increased its share of Italy’s international tourism markets, from 17.9 % in 2012 to 20.1% in 2013.

“Puglia is now a now a global tourism brand,” Nichi Vendola, the president of the Region of Puglia, said at the 2014 Milan International Tourism Exchange (BIT).

“In 2005,” Vendola said, “our region was a mysterious place with growth of 0.1% in tourism, while tourism was exploding in Andalusia, Galicia, and there were high rates even in Lapland. Puglia, with all its amazing attractions, did not attract visitors. Today, I claim that Puglia in any part of the world is synonymous with glamour, magic, and is a brand of quality. Now, to grow, the region still wants to focus on what is not going well, to look at each critical area, because tourism is a work in progress.”

The regional tourism agency Pugliapromozione reported that Vendola also said of Puglia’s performance, “From 2005 to today, we would not have seen (that tourism growth) if we had not had an idea of innovation…In my traveling around the world, I once drew quizzical looks whenever I spoke of Puglia. Today, it is no longer the case. Just look at the foreign press coverage 2013 ‒ all the major international media now know Puglia and tell about it.”

Vendola continued, “Puglia was beautiful before. If today there is an international image through a tourism policy, that certainly does not happen overnight. And that is also with the protection of the territory…We know that tourism promotion is done from above, but also horizontally from the bottom, thanks to the awareness of administrators, mayors, citizens, and always seeing a variety of target markets.”

The president cautioned that this is not the time to boast about successes, but to continue to improve. “This positive news is not the result of one strong year,” he said, “but a permanent magnet that will attract more travelers to our region.”

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