Calabria: more than just a seaside destination

Calabria's coastline

MILAN-- Gira e rigira la Calabria ti stupisce sempre. This is the claim that Calabria is making in order to help promote tourism in the region. Calabria attempts to entice tourists by promising to always surprise them.  

Calabria’s tourism drive was presented to the national and foreign press on April the 23rd at Circolo della Stampa in Milan, and the speakers were Giuseppe Scopelliti (President of  Regione Calabria), Raffaele Rio (General Manager of the Tourist Department of Region Calabria) and the sociologist Renato Mannheimer.

Mr. Manheimer described the current tourism situation in Calabria by showing the results of specific surveys that have recently been carried out. Two points are particularly interesting.

The first one is that when thinking about tourism in Calabria, 61% of Italians imagine seaside holidays. “The point is that Calabriacan give the tourist much more than simply wonderful beaches and an amazing sea. This area should also be appreciated for its cultural, gastronomic and natural heritage”, Mannheimer explained.  And this is exactly the aim of this promotional event: to show the vast range of other possibilities offered by Calabria, besides those related to seaside holidays.

The second point concerns  what tourists think of Calabria: almost everybody says they really appreciate local weather (99%), beaches and sea (98%), as well as food (95%). Yet more than 50% of the tourists interviewed complained about the critical situation of the region’s infrastructure such as it’s roads and bridges.

Giuseppe Scopelliti showed confidence in being able to solve this problem. “We aim to improve the transport system, in order  to reduce the distances between Calabriaand the rest of the world.” He emphasised the point: “Times and habits have changed. Forget about the times in which most people could spend one whole continuous month on their summer vacation. Nowadays most of the people spend their vacations in short periods of a few days. This means that we have to make it possible for them to come here for a very short time. We are aware - he went on - that there is a big constraint, because  Italy moves in two different speeds. High speed railways connect efficiently and in very short times only the cities that span from the north to the south of the country along the Tyrrenic coast, whereas for those that lie along the Adriatic one, railways are slower and more complicated. But we have planned to increase the number of airlines in our area by offering to help finance them.  And by next year- he promised- we are going to complete the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway.”

Constanze Rausher from Die Welt added that tourism operators in Calabria also need to aim to develop a more efficient communication strategy. “I agree, facilities need to be improved, but think about Pugliaand Sicily: over there the situation is far worse, yet these two regions have a good reputation among tourists, and this is just because they have been able to promote their image through proper and efficient communication”.

Now things seems to be changing and Calabria is soon going to be able to show tourists the variety and richness of tourism in the region. “This new campaign comes as a result of very careful market research which has pointed out that many tourists from all over the world are interested in discovering our territory. Among them there is a notable increase in the number of tourists that come from Poland, Israeland Russia” Raffaele Rio explained.  “By means of this new promotional  effort, we aim at welcoming  two and a half million visitors during the next summer-winter period.”

Whether it be a tourist from within Italy or from abroad, the important thing is that they leave Calabria with the desire to return.  “Just one visit is not enough”, said Andrea Giannetti of ATOI (Italian Tour Operator Association). “If a tourist does not come back again, then we have failed. But we hope that tourists will  fall in love with Calabria.”

And indeed, they hope that tourists will share the same enthusiasm as the girl in the new Calabria tourism commercial, who, referring to one of the main cultural attractions of the regions shouts: “Bronzi di Riace drive me crazy!”.