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An Interview with Alessandra Pistagna on the Future of Italy Tourism

Beppe Salerno
Posted by Beppe Salerno on Jul 18, 2020 5:00:00 PM

Alessandra Pistagna, owner of About Italy, shares her recent report and thoughts on the Italian hospitality industry going forward.

Those of you who have traveled with Tourissimo might have exchanged emails with or been on tour with Alessandra Pistagna. In addition to being our expert on hotels in Italy and guiding tours in her home region of Piedmont, she owns About Italy, a company that provides information and training on Italy for travel professionals.

In her own words:

"I am Italian and I am deeply in love with my Country.
I help international travel planners and tourism professionals in general in discovering tourist Italy from the inside, through webinars, digital resources and online learning.
Through this, tourism professionals all over the world can better promote, program and sell Italy to their own Clients."


In April 2020, in the middle of the total lockdown in Italy, Alessandra produced an ebook that gives her assessment on the changes in hospitality and tourism in Italy that will come as a result of the pandemic. While it's geared towards travel professionals, the information it contains can also be useful for anyone who is thinking about traveling to Italy in the future:

 "The eBook summarizes all the ideas and the projects for the Italian Tourism Sector that have been coming out during this emergency, as I learned during the lockdown. A time in which I have listened, read and participated to several Italian online events and debates.

My aim is giving my Clients and my international audiences a good coverage of 'what's going on next,' so that they can inspire and take actions in their own tourism businesses."


We had a few follow up questions for Ale:

Alessandra, you talked in your paper about over tourism (the way pre Corona) vs under tourism (the path forward). What is the hotel supply like in those minor destinations in more rural Italy?
The hotel supply in those area is consistent. What I want to point out is that often it is a more "qualitative" offer. I mean, in big cities or areas you find a little bit of everything: big hotel chains, luxury standardized hotels but also boutique hotels and family owned ones. In minor destinations it's easier to find authentic realities, smaller hotels and alternative forms of hotellerie as the "alberghi diffusi", which I see perfect for this kind of period.

Italy has a huge hotel offer. 2018 registered a record 428 million nights (280 in hotels). Who will survive the Covid-19 pandemic?
Good question. We arrive from years of records, you mentioned 2018 but 2019 has been also better. And now 2020 has blocked this ascent. Well, it will survive the type of hotel that will align immediately with some guidelines or protocols specific for Covid and will be able to communicate this to the guests. Probably small hotels with smaller clientele will receive more attention from the travelers.
Common spaces will need a reorganization for social distancing..I mean: it will be fundamental that the clients perceive that the hotel has acted to change itself for safe.
The problem now is to understand when hotels will be able to reopen, because the sooner they start again, the better will be for their reputation and costs. Some hotels will not reopen, that's for sure, unfortunately.

What are the "must have" services for hotels that want to safely and confidently start hosting tourists? Will hoteliers have to rebuild their business models from the ground up?
As said, the must-have services are for example an automated check in procedure, a protocol of room sanification, a Room Service with no additional fees. Also the complete way of delivering food will have to be re organized, probably hotel restaurants will be totally different. In this, the reopening of restaurants in Italy on May 18 will give some good ideas for the hoteliers.
I think that all the hotel could react: they will all need to revise their business models, in different way according to the location first and to their dimension secondly. Perhaps the big hotels in art cities will suffer for a longer time, at the beginning.
You've mentioned Sardinia as a destination with plenty of social distancing and that has not been affected by the virus spread. Other places?
Sardinia can be a destination to discover because its territory is perfect for social distancing (small villages, wild nature and spaces).
Other areas that can offer this kind of tourism are: Calabria, Abruzzo, Molise, for example.
But almost in every region there are areas that can be good for this purpose. Italy is fortunately full of "out of the crowd places", the challenge here it will be to avoid turning them into crowded places!
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Topics: Useful Info: Travel, Hotels

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