Italy is following its success as Premier Partner at last year’s WTM London – the leading global event for the travel industry – with a host of initiatives at WTM London 2018 and around the capital.
Italy reported a 5.3% increase in arrivals to the destination in 2017 and next year is set to be an important one for the destination as it commemorates 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci and welcomes visitors to the city of Matera – European Capital of Culture 2019.
During WTM London 2018, the Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT) is ensuring it will continue to be in the spotlight by sponsoring the WTM Buyers’ Club, while it will also have an increased presence around London.
Initiatives include a stand creative at Waterloo Station on the Sunday November 4, before WTM London and the first day of the show, Monday November 5, while the destination will also be featured on digital bus stops in Oxford Street during WTM week.
In addition, sponsorship deals will give Italy a major presence at the O2 during WTM week as well as a longer-running sponsorship of the Mantegna and Bellini exhibition at the National Gallery, which runs until January 27 2019.
Matera, 2019 European Capital of Culture, is one of two cities in Basilicata, a small region in Southern Italy, located between Campania, Apulia and Calabria and bathed by two seas, the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian.
It’s considered the ‘pearl of the Tyrrhenian’ and is dominated by a statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of a mountain which drops straight down to the sea.
Its most important event is the fiesta of the Madonna della Bruna, which sees the city’s papier-mâché artists competing to make the Triumphal Chariot, on which the statue of the Madonna will be taken in procession.
Every July 2, the chariot makes its way through the city streets to the cathedral square where the statue of Madonna is laid down and the chariot is broken up by the crowds who take a piece as a keepsake.
Meanwhile, Milan – where Leonardo da Vinci spent much of his time – spearheads a country-wide commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the great man’s death.
Milan’s programme of events will last nine months, from May 2019 to January 2020, with a spotlight onCastello Sforzesco, where Leonardo arrived in 1482 to put his skills at the service of Duke Ludovico Sforza.
Highlights include a multimedia path, set up in the Sala delle Armi, where visitors will be transported to Leonardo’s Milan, experiencing the city through his eyes. The itinerary will include geo-referenced visual mapping both in the city and within museums, churches and buildings of the territory.
Maria Elena Rossi, marketing and promotions director for the Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT) said: “Next year ENIT celebrates 100 years since its foundation. In 2019, Italy is also celebrating Leonardo da Vinci, 500 years after his death.
“The focus of the marketing strategy will be value growth: value of our proposal on existing and new markets and innovation of tourism products, focusing on the experience of the Italian way of life. The strategy will involve both the leisure and the meeting industry.”
She said total arrivals and overnight stays increased in 2017 compared to 2016, up 5.3% and 4.4% respectively.
The top markets for Italy in terms of nights spent are Germany (+4.9%), France (+1.9%) and UK (+1.5%) followed by the United States (+10.3%), Netherlands (+0.5%) and Switzerland (+3.1%).
In terms of arrivals, the United States remains the second origin market for Italy in 2017 (up 9.9%), after Germany,
WTM Portfolio, Press and PR Manager Paul Nelson said: “Italy is a fascinating destination with plenty of history and attractions that make it perfect for repeat visitors.
“Next year is no exception, with Matera as European Capital of Culture 2019 and commemorations of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.
“Da Vinci was fascinated by travel and flight and once said: ‘When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return’.
“It’s a fitting quote for WTM London, which celebrates everything good about air travel, tourism and ideas that shape the world.”
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