2020 was the annus horribilis of tourism, one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic. The provisional Istat 2020 data indicate a drop in attendance in accommodation facilities of over 50% which led to a collapse of the sector's impact on GDP, which went from 13% in the pre-pandemic to 7% in 2020 according to the latest WTTC estimates. (World Travel and Tourism Council).
2021 has certainly started uphill, but this summer the desire to travel and enjoy food and experiences is strong, the choice, therefore, must be carefully considered. It is a material and food and wine journey in the beautiful country – from the mountains to the sea, from the cities of art to the villages that dot each region – to give us some (appetizing) suggestions. All strictly linked to the culinary traditions symbol of the territory.
Taste of value, Neverending Food Tourism, new places and new spaces and wellbeing. These are the trends that emerged from the 2021 Italian Food and Wine Tourism Report which presents quantitative and qualitative analyzes, research and contributions from the International Scientific Committee to be a useful tool to support the restart.
“In addition to holidays and outdoor activities, the new needs of the contemporary traveler are participation in experiences in an active way and holistic well-being. In the decision-making process, the before and after of a holiday become part of the experience itself, above all thanks to digitalization, which is now essential to respond effectively to a more demanding question.” explains Roberta Garibaldi, author of the report which this year pays particular attention to the requests of Italians in the post-Covid phase.
The research data show that since 2016 there has been a constant growth in this tourism sector: today 71% of Italians consider the food and wine offer to be a decisive place in the choice of the destination of a trip, driven by the interest in deepening the cultural aspect, also under the productive / gustatory aspect, of a territory.
How do these new trends materialize and explain?
In answering this question, we embark on a tasty material journey that combines landscapes and monuments, textures and colors with traditional Italian dishes, city by city, region by region.
It is proposed by an itinerant communication project born during the lockdown, in the time spent observing and, above all, imagining the world outside the window. Thanks to the collaboration with the creative studio Ottodesign, the Venetian finishing company La Calce del Brenta, he designed (and colored) his Viaggio in Italia (Journey to Italy) through a narration that is made up of inspired images, as simple as sophisticated: symbolic architectures, food local, typical sweets and local wines are seasoned with material finishes in shades chosen with meticulous care to restore the vigor and charisma of each place. From the Alps to Sicily.
Never as in pandemic times have we learned to live the house paying attention to every detail, even those that the hectic life tends to make us overlook. Materials, textures and colors are instead the 'daily bread' of La Calce del Brenta. Since 1920, the De Toni family has been offering finishes for walls and surfaces that guarantee environments with a high aesthetic and beneficial impact. Lime is in fact a totally natural material, completely non-toxic, breathable and durable. In addition to giving vibrant colors, it is resistant to moisture and mold.
Among the images of Viaggio in Italia that illustrate this article, the Continuum lime coating, with warm tones and a delicately rough texture that gives grainy tactile sensations, stands out in Naples, Milan and in the Alpine landscapes. The lime finish Finally, very thin, almost impalpable, ultra-opaque and silky, it comes from the symbiosis between lime and marble; it connotes, among others, Sicily and Venice and can also be used outdoors. Finally, the Riva lime finish can be found in Rome, Florence and Bologna.
But let's see where this journey up and down Italy leads us by analyzing the trends that emerged from the Italian Food and Wine Tourism Report 2021.
The taste of value
Consumer food and wine tourism belongs to the past. The reasons that drive tourists to travel today are mainly related to the landscape, cultural identity for destinations and values for accommodation facilities. The link with the territory and the adoption of sustainable development practices are crucial. 66% of respondents are in fact more inclined to visit a production company when they have the opportunity to receive information during the visit on the ethical choices adopted, from staff to farming and cultivation methods; 51% would like to have the possibility to “adopt from a distance” a vineyard, an olive grove, an orchard or a vinegar factory and receive their final product at home (wine, oil, fruit, balsamic vinegar...).
Sustainability in all its forms (environmental, social, economic) has now become an essential value: the agri-food company that wants to emerge must act as an ambassador of an evolved territorial society. In fact, structures that educate the consumer and make him participate in an improvement process will be increasingly appreciated.
Active, demanding, innovative
The wine tourist's active approach is destined to grow. Trekking among the vineyards, increasingly equipped cycle paths, interconnections with rail transport, traffic stops and travel in complete freedom are among the most sought-after trends. In addition to green mobility, the involvement of the taste tourist in the daily activities of food and wine companies will increasingly develop: collective harvesting, sowing, pruning, milking, holidays in contact with animals in a pet therapy key. 61% of Italians define themselves as “innovative”, looking for quality and proposals that are constantly renewed. The challenge becomes the new balance between innovation and authenticity.
Neverending Food Tourism
The journey does not end with the journey. There are a before and an after that become essential elements, between preparation before, 'accompaniment' and finally memory. The new technologies, which have become familiar and usable in an increasingly intuitive and immediate way during the pandemic, will increasingly offer access to a plurality of sources to find stimuli, learn about new solutions and choose the destination, and then share experiences upon returning. increasing the loyalty towards the structure that hosted them. Neverending Food Tourism is a trend destined to grow, food and wine facilities will therefore have to invest in digitalization, from apps to augmented reality, from e-commerce platforms to digital tastings.
New places and new spaces
Smart working will encourage the relaunch of rural tourism in a (work plus free time) key. The small villages, which will have to build network projects to communicate their specificities, will develop as ideal places not only for living and working in close contact with nature, but also for networking activities. 47% of Italians, for example, consider cellars to be places where they can hold business meetings and company meetings, thanks to the pleasant and relaxing atmosphere.
Another significant prospect of growth will be in day hiking, thanks to the rediscovery of proximity areas triggered during the pandemic. Here, for example, the wine bars, the catering in the cellar and the small midweek events grow.
The creation of gastronomic hubs, intended as information centers on the proposed activities, from cooking classes to guided tours, will give further impetus to incoming. The return of tourism in the presence will therefore see a more aware and mature food and wine tourist, in search of the authenticity of places and flavors, with a significant growth potential for the historic places of the cities as an obligatory stop during visits, as well as for markets for locally produced quality products. Thematic hotels, country relais and gampling hotels are also gaining popularity.
65% of respondents say they pay close attention to nutrition to take care of themselves and therefore feel good. Closed at home for a long time, the desire to adopt a correct and healthy lifestyle has grown: food has become a sort of "comforting good" to regain both physical and psychological balance. This transformation will also persist in the coming years, when the consumer will become more and more attentive and demanding, placing their well-being as one of the determining factors for the choice of an itinerary or a destination. Among other effects, restaurants will weave ever closer relationships with local suppliers, communicating the traceability of products, guaranteeing zero kilometer ingredients and dishes.
The journey will therefore become an opportunity to regenerate and review one's habits: uncontaminated places will be rewarded for their ability – all natural – to relieve physical and mental stress. The food and wine journey thus becomes a strategic choice, which combines the well-being given to quality food, cooked according to timeless territorial traditions, and that linked to conscious tourism.