Major events offer Italy a sustainable opportunity

Italy’s big upcoming events, such as the 2025 Jubilee and the Milan-Cortina Olympics in 2026, stand to make an important impact on tourism

To mitigate the risk of overbooking and reinforce sustainability, Italy is looking to careful flow planning, ensuring that residents’ lives are not disturbed, and that tourists enjoy a pleasant stay.

Events make an important contribution to destinations’ tourism performance and Italy is no exception. Last year’s Ryder Cup golf event held in Rome from 29 September to 1 October, a period that tends to be considered part of the shoulder season for major tourist influxes, brought no less than an average occupancy rate of 74% to the capital’s hotels and private apartments, compared to 51.2% the previous year.

The country has a few major events on the horizon over the next two years, namely the 2025 Jubilee and the Milan-Cortina Olympics in 2026, which are also poised to draw a large influx of tourists. For the Jubilee, 35 million tourist arrivals are expected to generate 105 million stays, with an expected doubling of flows, making for a tourist expenditure of EUR 16.7bn. For the Milan-Cortina Olympics, 513,000 arrivals are expected, 34% more than the same period in 2023, along with 1.8 million stays and a predicted tourist expenditure of EUR 281mn.

The huge appeal of these events taking place in a precise and limited period of time can make the destinations hosting them vulnerable in terms of sustainability. According to the estimates of Italy’s National Institute for Tourism Research (Isnart), there is a risk of overbooking for both events. This risk is very high for the Jubilee, considering the 400,000 beds in the current accommodation capacity that already have an average annual occupancy rate of 66%. It is also probable for the Milan-Cortina Olympics, considering the current 250,000 beds with an average occupancy rate of 63% during the same period, but partially reduced by the fact that tourist stays will be distributed over a wider area.

To reduce these risks, the Italian National Tourism Organization (ENIT) is projecting careful flow planning to ensure that residents’ lives will not be disrupted and that tourists attending these events enjoy their stay.

In addition to these large sporting and religious events, Italy has another vast event tourism offering in music. Often seen as a niche market, music tourism offers significant economic sustainability, having contributed GBP 4.7bn (EUR 5.5bn) to the UK economy in 2019, with an estimated growth to over GBP 5.4 bn (EUR 6.3bn) in 2022.

Italian opera houses are already seeing important tourist flows with the Teatrale alla Scala Museum receiving around 250,000 visitors a year while the La Fenice theatre attracts some 180,000 visitors each year. Going beyond the traditional stars of Italian tourism – Milan, Venice, Rome, Naples – music festivals and events constitute a major pull for some of the country’s lesser-known destinations. The Arena di Verona Opera Festival in 2023 recorded its highest ever revenue with a total attendance of 402,722 spectators. The Sferisterio-Macerata Opera Festival and the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro also draw music lovers from all over the world to Italy, the home of opera.

Apart from its famous opera houses and prestigious opera festivals, Italy offers a wealth of other musical experiences that range from conservatoire training initiatives and prestigious masterclasses to activities related to the tradition of luthiery, music publishing, and fine craftsmanship for costume making and stage set design.

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Photo: © Caleb Miller-unsplash








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