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BIT 2012: Tourism, a factor in the recovery

BIT 2012: Tourism, a factor in the recovery

Traditionally, Bit – Borsa Internazionale del Turismo is also an opportunity for an appraisal of market performance and development scenarios for the sector. And even more so for the Bit 2012, in the Fieramilano district in Rho from Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 February, which is banking on the concept New Bit, New Business.

This 32nd edition opens in a very complex macro-economic context which nevertheless seems to point towards positive developments for 2012. Based on economic data gathered from the most acknowledged survey centres and analysed by Bit, the indication one can gather is that, independent of market history, economic operators must broaden their horizon and get used to thinking in a worldwide economic context.

World economy: the emerging countries compensate for the advanced ones.
If we take a look at the world economy, despite the crises of sovereign debt which in the second half of 2011 has slowed European growth, the overall outlook remains positive thanks to the performance of the emerging economies. The World Bank, for example has forecast an overall increase in the global GWP of +3.2% and expects a growth of +3.6% for both 2012 and 2013. The World Monetary Fund in January 2012 estimated a growth of +3.3% for this year and +3.9% for 2013, even though for advanced economies the forecast drops to +1.5/+2% or less.

In Europe, the European Economic Forecast published by the EU expected growth figures of +1.5% for Europe 27 and +1.4% for the Euro area, figures which may have to be reviewed downwards now that even Germany has reduced its forecast to a +0.7% for this year. In 2012 the recession in our Country should be confirmed, though one still has to assess the impact of the recent (and upcoming) pro-growth measures introduced by the Government: the economic contraction is expected to be in the neighbourhood of -2.2% according to the IMF, -1% to Moody’s, while the European Commission goes as far as predicting a positive result, even though by a very slim margin, just +0.1%.

Tourism, a counter-cyclical resource
In this rather hazy scenario, the tourist industry proves itself to be a resource that continues to generate growth: tourism is only marginally affected by the crises and people keep travelling. In its end of year review (therefore after the sovereign debt crisis), the UNWTO has confirmed the positive figures forecast in April of 2011: international arrivals have grown overall by +5% worldwide and this year it is expected they shall exceed the historic threshold of one billion. And to lend further confirmation to the counter-cyclical nature of the segment, the advanced economies (+4.9%) have grown more than emerging ones (+4%). Europe was the one to post some of the best results, with growth rates of between +6 and +8%.
Air traffic is on the up: based on IATA figures, air companies have closed 2011 with an increase in passenger demand of +5.9% compared to 2010 and a load factor of over 78%.


In Italy the indicators for domestic tourism are compensated by the good results of the international ones. While during the most recent holidays the Italians who travelled were only 6 million (two less than in 2010) and spent on average 200 euro less than last year (data from the National Tourist Monitoring Board) for 2011 Federalberghi (the national hotel association) reported an overall growth of hotel presences of +2.3% thanks to a +5.3% of foreign tourists compared to the +0.3% of Italians. If one expands the data to all types of presences, the Istat (National Statistical Institute) reports that they have remained pretty much stable (-0.8%) over the January – September 2011 period, due to the combined effect of a drop of domestic presences (-4.4%) and an increase in international ones (+3.9%, amounting to 149 million). The overall number of overnight stays stands at 326 million.

Passenger air traffic has grown in Italy as well: Assaeroporti indicates that it has grown by +7.6% during the first three quarters of 2011 compared to 2010, which was also a record year which saw Italy overtake France in terms of volume with 139,570,874 passengers, which positions our Country in fourth place in Europe after the UK, Spain and Germany.

As regards future developments, a recent survey carried out by Enit on the main local tour operators confirms that emerging markets are one of the most potentially important markets for Italy’s incoming: for the last winter holidays, the bookings towards Italy recorded by the TO interviewed have grown by as much as +20% and by +40% the year before.