Tourism in Umbria, Aur: “There is no system available and we operate on a small scale”

author: Giuseppe Coco
Research Agency Umbra

How much can the presence of tourists in Umbria increase? What additional contribution could the sustained increase in the number of tourists to GDP make? How many new hires would the sector generate?

These are some of the questions the writer has been grappling with for some time in the belief that Umbria tourism has the potential and strength to do more (Tourism: Raising Expectations). This statement is due to the fact that the region boasts a specific (and in some respects unique) offer, which may be an important alternative to seaside or mountainous places.

Before starting the analysis, however, it is worth picking out some concepts from the economist’s toolbox. Tourist area: an area where a potential demand for accommodation and leisure is transformed into paid demand. Tourist product: the set of goods and services required by a tourist during a vacation (which in turn can be broken down into five items of expenditure: transport; accommodation; catering; activities; shopping). Visitors: (a) tourists: persons who, in order to rest, leave their usual surroundings to spend one or more nights at the visited place; b) Pedestrians: people who leave their usual surroundings for less than 24 hours for the purpose of vacation.

The element of “duration” of the stay would not be necessary from the theoretical point of view, but in order to capture the economic effects of the tourist phenomenon, it becomes the central element, because the most visible traces are left by the visitor when asking for an overnight stay. A question that does not apply to hikers whose effects of transit in the destination area are ultimately confused with the ‘traces’ left by the locals themselves.

The two historic pillars of the Umbrian tourism model: Green and Franciscan Green Umbria and Franciscan Umbria are two sides of what has become a single medal that focuses on the region’s potential to attract people from all over the world. They are able to illuminate these places in their most intimate qualities and at the same time feed this narrative universe that has to do with the journey of history from generation to generation.

Umbria, the green heart of Italy, acts like high-quality glue: it connects different elements and makes them seem always united. Among the founding fathers of this slogan is Giosuè Carducci, and at the beginning of the 20th century, Carlo Faina – a leading figure in Umbria – used it as the title of one of his books. After 1970, for the purposes of promoting tourism, the newly born Region dusted it off and proposed again in a slightly different guise: “Italy has a green heart: Umbria”.

The second pillar that characterizes these places is the Franciscan Umbria. The footprint of the friar of Assisi is enormous and his footprints are many and can be found in basilicas, churches, monasteries, hermitages and forests that marked the basic stages of his life rich in mysticism, while at the same time not devoid of ambiguity that essentially made the figure of a saint even more fascinating.

Other pillars. But Umbria is not only “green” and “Franciscan”. Umbria is much more. The following outline highlights its diverse offer. Umbria, being a network of the sea, can offer tourists a really full vacation, because it allows them to build the right mix of relaxation, rest, culture, sport, etc. according to their preferences. Moreover, according to a recent study by Toluna (2021), tourists who want to potentially discover the region are aware of its advantages, which ultimately determine the choice of a tourist destination.

By observing Table 1 closely – and of course realizing that the polls are leaving the time they found – it’s striking that Umbria reaps the least satisfactory percentage when it comes to seeing it as a land rich in history, art, wines and typical products. But this – declaratively speaking – is not negative information, because the region beneath these fronts is objectively a very valuable treasure chest that only needs to be discovered. So, looking at the data from a different perspective, we actually have a measure of how much a “green heart” could grow in attractiveness if only it could promote itself better (tourism 2021: Umbria between primates and image centrality).

The issue of promotion is therefore central, and even the regional leaders know it very well, so much so that it may not be a coincidence that the largest Italian communications group in the world today, the Armando agency, is behind the face of Umbria. The fact is that we are experiencing an overall phase that is itself very complex; therefore, in order to understand the development and results of the energies that have been gifted to work in this direction, it is necessary to devote adequate time to the course of things.

In conclusion, while waiting for the official data to be analyzed this summer 2022, the writer, at the expense of repetition, wants to repeat a few things: 1) Umbria has all the references to become a much more attractive tourist destination (tourism is gaining momentum on the Internet); 2) in these latitudes, system building skills are often lacking; 3) you too often run the risk of falling into the confusion of thinking and acting on a small scale.

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