Wine, food and slow-tourism: Puglia at BIT24

Wine, food and slow-tourism: Puglia at BIT24

Puglia has recorded a +20% increase in international arrivals this year, totaling 2 million travelers, figures that confirm an increasingly positive trend in regional tourism. BIT2024, confirming its presence at the event, turns the spotlight on a decidedly appealing territory in the Italian offer. 

As confirmed by Puglia's Tourism Department, the Region continues to be an attractive destination, especially at the international level, with a growth in foreign flows of +20% for arrivals and +14% for overnight stays, reaching an overall figure for the first eight months of this year of +6% for arrivals and +3% for overnight stays. This trend continued into the autumn, in September and October, with the prospect of increasing seasonal off-peak tourism.


As Gianfranco Lopane, Councilor for Tourism, states: “This year the tourism industry in Puglia is in excellent condition and we could exceed 16 million visitors. The summer months’ figures match the performance of 2022 when the numbers were already higher, in terms of arrivals and presences, than for 2019, the record pre-pandemic year, and also compared to the average Italian market. From January to October 2023 we record more than 15.5 million overnight stays with an overall increase of 3% over last year and 6% in arrivals. Foreign flows, in particular, allow us to offset the drops in the domestic market from May onwards, which, however, affect the entire country and are mainly due to inflation and the erosion of the spending power of Italian families. September and October, with +7% in arrivals and +2% in overall stays, give us excellent prospects for the final figures for the current year, considering that approximately one-third of accommodation facilities are still unavailable and have yet to submit October figures”.   


The extraordinary increase in international tourism is driven by increasingly vertical communication activities that Puglia is promoting abroad and that focus on local-experiences, showcasing Puglia as one of the best food and wine destinations in the Belpaese.


“An appeal driven”, continues Lopane, “by a historic tradition and truly unique products. The results of the 2023 Food and Wine Tourism Report, by Roberta Garibaldi, reward us for the work that, as the Puglia Region, we are doing to promote the food and wine tourism product in Italy and around the world. [...] As part of the updating of the Strategic Tourism Plan, we intend to make wine and food a reason to travel, considering that tourists nowadays want to savor good food and wine and also have a strong aptitude for plunging into community life and into a variety of other settings: these range from visits to olive mills or farms to typical cooking courses, from grape crushing to fruit and vegetable harvesting. These experiences are under the banner of sustainability, the pillar of our vision”.


Through public calls for tenders and local initiatives, the region is encouraging increasingly immersive and valuable tourism proposals. “We recently published a call for proposals”, Lopane continues, “to accommodate the regional public and private training institutions’ projects aimed at activating training courses for tourist guides, reception and inbound operators, and other professionals in the sector to improve the immersive experience proposal. As such, working in synergy with the private sector remains a priority, to qualify the skills of our operators with a view to offering itineraries that reflect the authenticity of the local culinary tradition and that can be integrated with the other elements of the offer for tourists who travel for different reasons”.


So there are many ongoing projects that Puglia will present at BIT24. Next year, after all, the region will have the honor of hosting the G7. “We must be ready”, Lopane announced, “to tell the heads of government of the seven world powers about our wonderful land, but also to all those who will be involved [...]. Recently, as the regional government, we have allocated 20 million euro to tourism for 2024 to finance the numerous initiatives to be pursued over the next few years. We will continue the Puglia tourism strategy and the objectives related to extending the tourist season, enhancing globalization and raising the quality of supply and the development of complementary tourism products, with particular reference to professional services and skills. We will support initiatives aimed at governing the destination and the competitiveness of our businesses and the Puglia brand in Italy and abroad by also exploiting subsidized funding instruments”.


“BIT”, concludes Lopane, “is a key event for Puglia for connecting supply and demand, enabling municipalities and companies, based on a unique model for Italy, to present their initiatives. We are looking to BIT24 to strengthen the promotion and relationship activities that we implement each year to support an ecosystem that is central to regional development”.