Italy needs to make most of its rich heritage of culinary tourism
Date: October 31,2017
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Italy needs to make most of its rich heritage of culinary tourism

It is not hard to understand why the number of international visitors to Italy’s Bolgheri wine country in Tuscany has doubled in five years.

“People have always come in the summer for the beaches,” said Riccardo Binda, the general manager of the local consortium of winemakers in an area known for its production of high-quality Bordeaux-style reds. He added, “Now we’re getting visitors all year round. It’s something new that has developed as the reputation of Bolgheri’s wine has grown.”

Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture and tourism minister expects 2017 to be a record year for tourism. The travel and tourism sector accounts for around 10 percent of the country’s GDP and has become a significant engine of growth for an economy emerging from years of stagnation.

A bumper summer season saw a 16 per cent increase in the total number of visits to the country’s long coastlines, with the number of overseas customers going up more than five percent.

However, according to the UNWTO, with just over 52 million foreign visitors in 2016, Italy still lags behind its comparable neighbours France, with 82 million visitors last year, and Spain with 75 million.

The minister also said that much of the recent growth in tourism can be attributed to terrorism-related security concerns that have diverted holidaymakers from Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. Against that backdrop, authorities are looking to bolster year-round arrivals and target more visitors.

Some of the country’s major museums and art galleries would be given a facelift, while a major upgrade of the Francigena pilgrim’s route reflects an effort to draw in more hikers and cyclists.

But according to designer and entrepreneur Franco Malenotti, Italy needs to make the most of its celebrated wines and rich culinary heritage.

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