Walking tourism gains popularity amongst Italians 

Slow tourism or outdoor activities.  A type of vacation that has increasingly won over the market and where attention is now increasingly focused.  Confirmation comes from the BIT Observatory on Eurostat – European Travel Commission data (2023), which reveals that “among the types of trips and experiences European tourists chose in the period October 2023–March 2024, about 21.7 million prefer outdoor experiences (about 17% of total travellers) and about 19.7 million (16% of the total) opt for gastronomic experiences.”

Looking at Italy, a study by ENIT and Touring Club has investigated Italian walking routes and tourist offerings.  100 routes covering approximately 30,000 kilometres in total were identified, and amongst these, the 63 most visible ones with dedicated tourist websites were analysed.  The research, conducted in collaboration with Ipsos, puts the focus on, “hiking tourism, that is, itinerant tourism, predominantly done on foot in generally rural or mountainous contexts for naturalistic, religious/spiritual, or psychophysical well-being reasons.”

The study also reports the results of an opinion poll conducted between August 15 and September 15, 2023, on representative samples of the Italian (1,000 cases), French, English and German populations (500 cases per country) using the CAWI method.


Slow Tourism numbers

The spotlight is therefore on slow tourism, by foot and bicycle.  Based on the data, “there are approximately 3.6 million enthusiasts in Italy (people who have already had an experience of this type of tourism and would like to do it in the future), 4.8 million in France, 5.6 in Germany, and 7.1 in the United Kingdom.”

As for destinations, Italy is the favourite choice for a slow vacation for the aforementioned markets.  The regions chosen by Italians put “Trentino-Alto Adige in first place, followed by Tuscany, Umbria, and Sicily, with Sicily first and Tuscany second,” for the French and English, “and Tuscany followed by Sicily for the Germans.”


The rise of hiking tourism 

Hiking tourism, done exclusively on foot, is also gaining market share.  In Italy there are approximately 2.7 million enthusiasts, with 4.5 million in France, 4.6 in Germany and 5.4 in the United Kingdom.

Vacations dedicated to slow tourism are well suited to the rediscovery of traditions specific to the destinations being visited and to gastronomic tourism.  As confirmed by the BIT Observatory, based on data from the “Report on Italian Gastronomic Tourism” (R. Garibaldi, ed. 2016-2023), there were approximately 9.6 million gastronomic tourists in Italy in 2023, where a gastronomic tourist is defined as a traveller who has taken a gastronomy-centred vacation with overnight stays in the last three years.


Religious routes 

Religious routes mustn’t be forgotten, and the Minister for Tourism, Daniela Santanché, has signed a decree for €4.5 million related to implementing measures of the fund, aimed at improving the usability of the routes and enhancing public properties along the itineraries.  The fund’s allocation – as reported in a ministry note – concerns hiking routes with religious or spiritual themes, interregional or regional, accessible exclusively or mainly on foot or with means related to slow and sustainable tourism.

Stefania Vicini

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