Active Italy, an uphill climb

Travellyze, a cloud-based business intelligence tool by International Tourism Group (ITG), of which Interface Tourism Italy is a part, has analysed the profile of Italians who choose active tourism, exclusively for our publication. Our fellow citizens indicate the following activities as the main reasons for travel: 17.2% (9,290,100 people) trekking, 10.1% (5,455,300 people) skiing, 6.6% (3,564,800 people) other activities (e.g. climbing, equestrian tourism, surfing/kiteboarding, etc.), 6.3% (3,402,800 people) cycling.

Men and northerners most active

In the North, all types of active vacations are more popular than the national average, with trekking at the top at 20.72%. The Centre is generally more aligned with the national average, with some exceptions: skiing is more popular compared to the average (11.38%), with rates similar to those of the northern Italian regions, while cycling (6.29%) is more popular compared to the sum of various other activities (5.99%). Interest in the South for active tourism is well below the national average. Trekking remains the most requested activity, although with only 11.63%, while cycling is considered the least interesting (4.65%). The choice of active tourism is above average for men. Overall, cycling is more popular with men (70.53% vs 29.47%) and there is substantial gender parity for skiing (60.53% vs 59.47%). It is also above average up to 45 years old, substantially in line with the average between 45 and 54 years old and below average in the older age groups. It is important to note that trekking becomes more important after the age of 45, while skiing remains mostly stable and the importance of various other activities decreases.

Dedicated sources

People who have a strong motivation to travel want active tourism and look for information from dedicated specialised sources. For this reason, social networks are very important as they allow people to carry out their research within interest groups. Instagram, in particular, is a source of information for 35.22% of tourists in general, but rises to 46.51% for people who choose trekking, 54.74% for people who choose cycling, 52.63% for people who choose skiing and a significant 60.61% for people who choose other activities. People who choose trekking use a panel of information sources more similar to the national average, with word of mouth the most popular (57.36%), followed by search engines (54.74%) and review websites (49.22%). Among social media, YouTube is decidedly more popular than Facebook for all activities. Information provided by tourism boards is taken into consideration more than the general average.

The importance of connections and experiences

Although still considered to be very important, cleanliness, safety and hygiene are less important compared to the national average. The following trends have also been noted: direct flights from local airports are more important than average for all types of active travel, except for trekking; prices at destination are more important than average for those who engage in cycling or other activities, but below average for those interested in trekking and skiing vacations. New experiences and the opportunity to meet people are decidedly above average for all types of outdoor travel, as is the requirement to be able to drive to the destination, ensuring total freedom for the traveller.

An image to improve

The image of Italy is below the national average for all types of tourism (particularly for cycling). Interest in Nordic countries however is much higher than the average. European destinations are generally more appreciated by active tourists than by general tourists. The trend is particularly strong regarding France.


Italy is among the most well-known destinations for those travelling for active tourism, with the exception, however, of those travelling by bicycle. In general, those who travel “actively” say they have a greater knowledge of foreign countries of interest compared to the general tourist. The medium to high-end target audience is confirmed by the presence of destinations such as the Principality of Monaco on the list, which is more business- and luxury-oriented than leisure.

The perception

Italy is considered less appealing compared to competitors regarding active tourism. More mass-market destinations like Greece or Spain show fluctuating trends, with great interest in some types of tourism, but also low perception percentages for other types. Travellers who choose cycling show a strong bias towards countries able to offer well-known routes.

Travel desire

Italy does not appear among the top “dream” destinations for an active vacation. Travellers engaging in other activities have a greater inclination towards discovery, with travel desire rates generally higher than average, such as for people who ski. It is no coincidence that they are generally younger and more educated individuals. Cycling enthusiasts are among those who are the least interested in planning longer trips, with rates almost always below the national average.

Paola Olivari

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