The Enigma of Italian Tourism
There is no doubt that Italy is a fantastic country to visit; the diversity of its regions, mean that tourists can always discover something new on every visit. As an observation though of the Italian tourist trade in general, it may seem that a lot of the big tourist boom of the last thirty years has not really touched the country. Spain for instance has a much more developed tourist infrastructure, and attracts more people in a year, than Italy does in two.
So why is it that Italy has not kept up with other developing countries, such as Turkey, India or Greece? The answer is not that simple, but apart from being too bureaucratic and unorganised, the real reason is that Italy is happy with what it has got, and does not envy the mass tourism of its Latin counterpart, Spain. Forty years ago, Spain as a tourist destination was probable like Italy is now, but somewhere along the line, they decided to cater for the less savoury side of the holiday market.
When you walk through an Italian seaside resort, you can do so in the certainty that you are not going to see gangs of youths in Football shirts, drinking British beer, and eating fish and chips. What you get in Italy, is the Italian experience, and unlike Spain they have not sold out their ideals. Italy has never let tourism ruin its identity.
If you take a trip from the North of Italy to the deep South of Sicily, you can experience the true value of the country. The Alpine regions attract skiers in the winter, and walkers in the summer. This part of Italy is less expensive than its Swiss and Austrian counterparts, but the air is just as fresh and the food second to none. The central regions attract the rich and famous. Who do you know, that is a celebrity and doesn’t have a farmhouse in Tuscany? The poorer regions of Southern Italy are trying to redefine themselves by offering more than just a beach holiday. These days, there are as many tourists that come to learn how to cook in the Mediterranean way, to learn the language, or take a scuba diving course.
So Italy has held on to its traditions, despite the lure of mass tourism, and as a country is well worth a second look, when you are next thinking of a break.