Italian Government Tourist Board Update on Effects of COVID-19

This week’s ENIT bulletin (Agenzia nazionale del turismo, known in English as the Italian Government Tourist Board) returns a new overview of Italian tourism which represents 13% of GDP. The percentage of positive sentiment on social networks has increased from 4.0% to 4.3%, which is accompanied by solidarity with Italy, whose values are trendy and as Italian living is increasingly appreciated.

According to ENIT, with summer approaching, social activities are being highlighted with the desire for holidays increasing despite COVID-19. From March 18 to April 30, Italy has been mentioned 617,400 times, of which 32,600 appeared on the web and 584,800 from social media – producing 186.4 million interactions. This represents a spontaneous promotional campaign worth €331 million. Over the past 2 weeks, the percentage incidence of citations that contain references to the theme “tourism” has gradually increased.

The reactions of the last week show 20,800 likes; 3,700 of empathetic sadness; 1,400 of affection; and 1,300 of amazement. For the summer tourist season from June to August, the number of airport bookings shows the trend between the various European countries in balance: Italy counts 407,000 reservations (-68.5%), Spain 403,000 (-63.7% ), and France 358,000 (66.3%).

The accommodation facilities register a lower availability of beds for the month of June, while the average price of the rooms for sale on the OTA, which suffered a general decline in February and March, is rising throughout Italy while June is approaching.

International incoming air travel

The ENIT Research Office revealed that the very weak trend in airport arrivals in 2020, produced losses that from January 1 to April 26 increase to -63.4% compared to the same period of 2019 (which went up to -94.7% from March and April). This raised the trend of deeper decline due to the fall of international demand caused by antivirus restrictions.

Arrivals from the Chinese market dropped to -77.4% (maximum value) and from the USA (-71.7%) against the lower decrease of -54.5% recorded by Russia.

The analysis of short-term economic scenarios indicates that the recovery of the golden days up to 2019 is expected only within the next 3 years and will likely surpass it by +4% total visitors – a trend dictated by domestic tourism.

The global international airport arrivals between January and March 2020, shows a decrease of -38.2% compared to the first quarter of 2019: Asia and the Pacific -48.7%, followed by Europe with -36.4%, Africa and the Middle East with -29%, and from the Americas -26.7%.

The European scenario

The research indicates: Central-Eastern Europe suffers -40.7%, followed by Western Europe with -39.7%, Southern Europe with -39.2%, while  North Europe limits the damage to -33.9%. Tourism, almost 12% of total employment in the European Union, is proving to be the fourth largest export category in the European Union and which generates revenues of over 400 billion euros. The European Union has provided economic support instruments which can be accessed and on which ENIT provides a constant update.

Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative – a maneuver that will allow public authorities to redirect the amounts not used in the European Structural and Investment Funds also in the tourism sector. With the go-ahead from the European Parliament received in the extraordinary plenary session on March 26, the initiative entered into force on April 1.

Guarantee to the European Investment Fund, to strengthen existing financial instruments (COSME-COmpetitiveness of enterprises and Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises). This is expected to mobilize €8 billion in working capital financing and will support at least 100,000 small and medium-sized enterprises and small-cap companies in the EU including in the tourism sector.

SURE – tool to mitigate the risks of unemployment in the event of an emergency, to cover layoffs, and encourage the reduction of working hours in the direction of part-time. The fund is expected to mobilize financial resources of up to €100 billion. The bulletin provides an updated overview of the status of tourism abroad in COVID phase 2 based on the monitoring of 30 ENIT offices worldwide.