The rich history, traditions, culture and natural beauty of Italy – along with its incredible cuisine – have proved to be a magnet for visitors from across the globe.
According to a report by Italian tourist organisation the Touring Club published last Monday, Italy was the fifth most popular destination in the world in 2016, holding its position for the third consecutive year.
When it comes to international arrivals, France took out first place, and despite the challenges it has faced in relation to terrorism, it was the most visited country in the world with 84.5 million international arrivals.
France was followed by the USA (77.5 million), Spain (68.2 million) and China (56.9 million).
Italy welcomed 50.7 million visitors in 2016, contributing to a booming tourism sector which is worth more than €70 billion a year, or 4.2 per cent of the national GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
This number climbs again to €172.8 billion, or 10.3 per cent of the national GDP, when related industries are taken into account, which create jobs for around 2.7 million Italians.
Local tourism has also grown, both in terms of arrivals and the duration of visits, up by 6.2 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.
“In regards to regional appeal, the central and southern regions are proceeding at double speed,” the Touring Club stated.
It’s a paradoxical reality, given that up until now international crowds have tended to flock to the south for its sites, cultural heritage and scenery, while northern and central regions have been less popular.
Perhaps surprisingly, Veneto is the most visited region in Italy, with more than 63 million visitors in 2016.
This number is three times more than that of Campania (19 million), and four times more than that of Sicily, (15 million).
In regards to “incoming expenditure”, Lazio ranks first with €6.4 billion euro left by foreign visitors out of Italy’s total €36 billion in 2015.
Lazio was followed closely by Lombardy, then Veneto (€5.2 billion) and Tuscany (€4.1 billion).
Italian agricultural association Coldiretti believes that 2017 will be the best summer of the decade regarding tourism.
Having reached a new record, figures from the first six months of the year in relation to Italian museum entries prove Coldiretti right.
In fact, according to the ministry, 23,213,288 people have visited museums, monuments and archaeological sites this year, bringing in €88,708,038, a 17.2 per cent increase on the same time last year.
Lazio, Campania and Tuscany sit at the top of the list, while regions hit by last year’s earthquakes have seen a drop in visitors to museums and other sites.
Italy is an enchanting place which has become a desired destination due to its stunning scenery and rich culture, but we mustn’t forget the responsibility to preserve these very things.
This work is being done by the institutions which are held responsible by the Italian Constitution in the face of the rest of humanity and future generations.
Emblematic of this situation is Venice, which has become fragile and requires care and attention in order to be preserved, as its inhabitants are fervently protesting.