A record number of Italian holidaymakers travelling within their own country.gave the country’s tourism businesses a much-needed boost in July and August, according to the study published on Thursday by Italian tourism and commerce agency CNA.
The survey found 23 million Italians chose to take vacations in the country this summer season compared to 17 million in 2020 and 18 in 2019, the year before the pandemic.
Of these, 15 million stayed in hotels while another 8 million chose “non-hotel accommodation”, with campsites the most popular.
Italy also attracted some six million foreign visitors over the same period – a far lower number than in pre-pandemic years, but more than had been expected.
The agency said the rise in international tourism this summer was an “unexpected result” and attributed it to “the positive effects of the ‘green pass’ health certificate“.
Since the EU-wide travel health pass scheme began on July 1st, arrivals in Italy from other member states have needed to show their digital pass containing proof of vaccination, testing or recovery.
Rules for non-EU visitors to Italy vary and depend on which country they’re travelling from. Quarantine-free tourism is now possible for fully-vaccinated travellers from some non-EU countries including the UK, US and Canada.
Italy’s seaside resorts attracted by far the most visitors this year, while cities are “still very much affected by the impact of the pandemic”, despite being more often visited by foreigners, the study found.
Smaller islands also enjoyed particular popularity this year, the study said, adding that this was in part due to initiatives such as the promotion of the island of Procida as the next Italian capital of culture and the ‘Covid-free islands’ campaign which aimed to attract visitors to areas with low coronavirus infection rates.
However many popular holiday areas, including the island regions of Sardinia and Sicily, have recorded a surge in new cases and hospitalisation in recent weeks.
In response, some areas have brought in localised health measures while Sicily was declared a ‘yellow zone’ on August 30th under the nationwide tiered system of restrictions.
Italy had dropped almost all coronavirus-related restrictions across the country at the end of June.