Archive for July, 2014

Puglia tourism gaining strength in foreign markets

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

International tourism to Puglia is growing stronger by the day, proving the value of the region’s outreach programs targeting foreign travelers.

Pugliapromozione, the Region of Puglia government tourism agency, reports more than 1.17 million total tourist arrivals in Puglia for the first six months of 2014, representing a 1% increase over the same period last year, despite a falloff in domestic arrivals.

What’s particularly encouraging is the 7% increase in visitor arrivals from foreign markets, Regional Tourism Councilor Silvia Godelli told La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, noting that “the foreign market…continues to grow at a rapid pace in all the territories of the region.”

The Councilor added, “The internationalization of tourism in Puglia is now a fait accompli because foreigners have reached 23% of total arrivals.”

La Gazzetta reported that foreign visitor arrivals for the six-month period were up by 17,000 from a year earlier, offsetting a decline of 8,000 by Italian tourists.

Much of this success can be attributed to Pugliapromozione, which has been staging Puglia tourism road shows and other events in major European cities this year.

Photo © Copyright Pugliapromozione

Bad weather & domestic economic decline hinder Puglia’s early summer tourism season

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Puglia’s peak summer tourism season is off to a less than stellar start. Although bad weather as well as economic factors are affecting stays at the region’s resorts among travelers from within Italy, the international visitor market to Puglia is performing better, albeit not strong enough to offset the domestic slowness. That puts Puglia in a difficult position, as with many resort destinations that generate most of their tourism revenues from summer stays.

Francesco De Carlo, regional president as well as president for Bari province of Assohotel-Confesercenti, an organization representing about 480 hotels, told La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno that initial data shows that summer tourism arrivals so far are lower than expected, although the luxury segment of the market is performing well. Bad weather is one factor, he said, as “rain and clouds often have ruined” vacation plans, but he added that the situation is worsened by the inability or unwillingness of domestic travelers to pay the same rates paid for accommodations in years past.

De Carlo told the newspaper, “Weather can create some more problems to (seaside) locations…We were ready, the beaches were clean, but the weather did not help us…Foreigners who had already booked destinations have not changed (their plans),” but many Italians have postponed or canceled their trips.

This information highlights the necessity for any tourism destination, but Puglia in particular, to diversify its visitor industry so that problems such as bad weather at beach resorts or declines in the domestic economy can be offset by strong international traffic to locales beyond the beaches. The magnificent beaches of Salento and Gargano attract visitors from around the world, and that’s a huge boost to Puglia’s economy, but the region is fortunate to have so much potential to also generate significant international tourism arrivals with itineraries based on culture, history, art and food and wine. That potential can be realized when all parties, public and private, regional provincial and local, work together in a united effort to make Puglia a “must-see” destination.

Photo © Copyright Sandro Bedessi/Fototeca ENIT

“Sustainability” and Puglia’s tourism future

Monday, July 7th, 2014

A very important blog has been posted by The Huffington Post that has significance for Puglia’s tourism future, especially considering that the region is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 28 Blue Flag certified beaches.

The blog is titled “Third Party Certification Needed for Sustainable Tourism” and is written by Dr. Dave Randle, president and CEO of the WHALE Center, and Dr. Reese Halter, who is a broadcaster, conservation biologist and educator.

The authors make the case that “There are many laws and principles governing the environment but collectively they do not provide any guarantee that a tourism business will be sustainable” and that “For certification to be meaningful it has to be verified by a third party.” They particularly single out the important work of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) in promoting sustainability initiatives in worldwide tourism. In fact, they describe the GSTC programs as “the gold standard for certification in the tourism industry.”

In their textbook Practicing Responsible Tourism, Lynn C. Harrison and Winston Husbands write, “The concept of sustainable tourism development has ostensibly caught the attention of both government and industry. Yet, what this means in practice is not always clear.”

What is “sustainable” tourism for Puglia?

I often use the term “sustainable” tourism in regard to efforts to protect Puglia’s precious and priceless antiquities (its castles, cathedrals and other physical landmarks) as well as programs that seek to educate visitors about the region’s cultural heritage, particularly its place in world history. Just search “Puglia history” and you’ll see what I mean.

If we want to preserve and protect these things, we have to get people interested in them. But to get them interested, they have to know about them. UNESCO does a wonderful job of helping to raise awareness of precious and even endangered places and cultures around the world through its World Heritage Sites program, including the three in Puglia (Castel del Monte in Andria, the trulli of Alberobello and Gargano’s Monte Sant’Angelo).

Here’s where there is an opportunity for Puglia, within the public as well as the private sectors, to encourage tourism development that aims to educate existing and would-be visitors about the region’s incredibly diverse cultural attractions. Develop awareness programs that let travelers with varied interests find out about Puglia. And they could even target overseas residents who are descended from Pugliese who left the region many years ago, usually for economic reasons. Many of them are curious about their roots, but need and want help learning and exploring. If we make it easier for them, they can help spread the word about Puglia’s heritage and help in preservation efforts.

Photo: The trulli of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
© Copyright Vito Arcomano/Fototeca ENIT