Opinions Tourism

The Summer of 2024

, by Cristina Mottironi
The industry is going back to pre-Covid levels, and beyond. But above all the current year will mark the beginning of a new era characterized by the emerging trends of smart and sustainable travel and the hybridization of business and leisure tourism. In Italy, roots tourism is set to be a driver of incoming flows

The first data available for 2024 point to an increase in travel intentions. In continuity with the recovery of world tourism last year, which closed at -12% compared to the pre-pandemic peak of 2019, the forecasts for this year estimate a full return, and perhaps already an overtaking, of the 2019 figures, with the first quarter already at +7%. In addition to the number of travelers, some surveys predict even greater growth in spending, making tourism one of the best performing sectors of the global economy. In fact, it is estimated that travelers will spend around €748 billion in Europe, or 14.3% more than in 2023.

In this scenario, Italy is among the most sought-after destinations for both European and non-European travelers but, beyond growth prospects, tourism is preparing to enter a new era, characterized by emerging trends and changes in consumer behavior.

This is why summer 2024 promises to be a crucial moment for Italian tourism: the full recovery must not divert the attention of our tourist industry from the need, and potential, to adapt to the new realities of the global market.

The forecasts for the season confirm an evolution in preferences for travel methods which are becoming increasingly personalized and segmented, driven by a growing interest in more sustainable experiences integrated with digital technologies.

As in other sectors, the pandemic has accelerated technological adoption by tourists, promoting the use of digital solutions for travel planning and booking or tourist information and service management. Digital technology has not only improved efficiency and convenience, but have also set new expectations that will endure over time.

And as in other sectors, sustainability is increasingly as a key demand component, with an increasing number of travelers looking for environmentally friendly options. With reference to Italy, for example, some recent studies indicate that between 50 and 60% of Italian travelers consider the environmental impact in their travel choices.

In terms of the search for experiences characterized by specific interests, in Italy the hybridization of the different tourist market segments can lead to an expansion of travel experiences, combining and enhancing the excellences that characterize Italy and further distributing visitor flows towards more peripheral destinations , as an alternative or in addition to established centers of tourist attraction. Luxury, culture, food and wine, outdoor, wellness - just to mention the most highly attractive segments - put Italy as a key destination for these niches, adding value to the more traditional segments of seaside and mountain tourism.

Two further trends for 2024 deserve a mention, both linked to recent innovations introduced in Italy and the segments of interest for the country. First of all, positive signals are also finally coming from business tourism. In this area, an interesting trend is combination of work and vacation in various forms: from smart working to digital nomadism. This year, Italy finally introduced visas for digital nomads, a population of professional travelers estimated at around 35 million people. Furthermore, 2024 is the year of roots tourism: there are around 260 million people who have family and cultural ties with Italy. This vast group represents a surprising tourist opportunity for Italy, with an estimated spending potential of up to €8 billion. For this reason, 2024 was proclaimed "Year of Italian roots" by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a specific project was included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), thus placing this segment at the center of national attention.

Signs of recovery and change are therefore coming from many quarters and lead to the affirmation that Italy, by balancing innovation, sustainability and tradition, has all the requirements to make the most of emerging trends in the global tourism environment. It is now essential to convert them into propositions of value.


Bocconi University
Department of Social and Political Sciences