Italy is forecasting to achieve “double-digit growth” this year over 2022, according to the director of marketing for the country’s tourist board.
Maria Elena Rossi described 2022 as a “year of remarkable post-pandemic recovery”, which saw Italy record 13 million overnight stays – almost double the previous year.
But she is confident the destination will achieve even better results in 2023.
“We are particularly happy about how the year  has been running – I think 2023 will be even better than 2019,” she said, speaking to Travel Weekly at World Travel Market.
Tour operators have been tapping into this demand for Italy and have been introducing new packages for the country in 2024.
These include Riviera Travel, which announced a new Discover Italy by Rail itinerary beginning on May 18.
Rossi said the tourism authority will be focusing on promoting Italy’s 7,000 smaller towns and villages in 2024, as a way of distributing tourists away from the main hotspots.
“Each town has different characters and traditions, and that is the really strong selling point”, she said.
The push towards lesser-known destinations was launched in 2018, but funding for the initiative has increased after the pandemic.
Rossi believes travel agents have a “huge role” to play in spreading the word about quieter Italian locations.
“In 2024, we are planning a project with Abta to showcase Italy as a sustainable destination with small villages, outdoor activities, off-season opportunities,” she added.
“We will be strongly supporting travel agents to get these products out there, and at the same time we will be developing the products so they are competitive on the international market.”
A trade training portal called the Italian Tourism Academy already exists, but Rossi explained “it is one of our main objectives next year to focus on more extensive programmes for travel agents”.
Pictured: Porto Venere on the Ligurian coast of northwestern Italy