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Tourism in Italy – Details, history, statistics and more


Tourism in Italy is one of the major economic sectors of the country. According to the National Italian Institute of Statistics, Italy is the 5th most popular destination worldwide with 65 million tourists visiting it every year. Tourism accounts for 13% of the country’s GDP (2018 Bank of Italy data).

Tourism in Italy has a long history. As back as the 17th century tourists from Europe, mainly British and French aristocrats, were visiting Italy as part of the so-called Grand Tour (an itinerary of the time of major European destinations that included Italy) to study its culture, history, arts, and architecture and admire its natural beauties.

The types of tourism in the present day that attract millions of Italy’s tourists every year include:

  • Artistic-cultural tourism. With a cultural history that goes back to the birth of the Roman Empire, and its major role in the development of the Renaissance period the country is a vast open-air museum, and art and architecture exhibition.

  • Seaside tourism. The country is surrounded by 4 major seas, and has a coastline of 8.000 km that includes numerous seaside resorts.

  • Lake tourism. There are more than 1000 lakes in Italy and many of them have tourism facilities and accommodations, as well as all sorts of water activities and sports.

  • Mountain tourism. By being the home of mountain ranges like the Alps and the Apennines, the country offers many opportunities for both winter and summer mountain tourism and sports.

  •  Hill tourism. Hills account for 41,6% of the country’s total area and attract tourists also because of the wine-growing areas.

  • River and canal tourism. Italy has many rivers of various sizes some of which are navigable and run through many sites of natural beauty, towns, cities, and other points of cultural and religious interest.

  • Underwater tourism. Both at the sea and in the lakes, people pursue it not only for observing the natural beauties but also for archaeological purposes.

  • Shopping tourism. Italy is a major shopping tourism destination with Milan being the top among the cities that attract such kind of tourism, and Rome being the second.

  • Spa tourism. Italy has one of the number of spas worldwide. The volcanic activity of the country has enriched the soil and created ideal conditions for the development of spas.

  • Wedding tourism. In 2022 11.000 couples chose Italy to get married, making it the second most popular wedding tourism destination in the world.

  • Religious tourism. The Vatican City in Rome is the seat of the Catholic Church and its 1,34 billion followers worldwide have to visit it at least once in their lifetime, but there are also plenty of other pilgrimage sites throughout the country.

  • Roots tourism. The Italian diaspora is estimated to be around 25 million people worldwide and if we also count those who can claim Italian ancestry then that figure can easily climb to 80 million. Many of those people go back to the land of their ancestors to discover their roots.

  • Luxury  tourism. Italy has developed this sector significantly. Luxury tourism-related activities contribute 60 billion Euros annually to the Italian economy (or 3% of the country’s GDP) The Costa Smeralda has the most expensive real estate market in Europe.

  •  Sports tourism. Italy has a long history in sports and the country stands on top of the world in many sports which attracts many sports fans from abroad. Its first-division football league “Serie A” is considered as one of 4-5 best leagues in the world. Italy is also very big in motorsports and its Giro D’Italia is very famous among the fans of cycling.


Other types of tourism include business tourism, food and wine tourism, traditions tourism, UNESCO World Heritage sites tourism, historic villages tourism, nightlife tourism, amusement and theme park tourism, , and student programs tourism.


The top 10 arrivals in Italy (2019) were from Germany, USA, France, UK, China, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, and Russia.


The top 10 most visited regions (2019) were Veneto, Trentino-Alto, Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Lazio, Campania, Apulia, Sardinia and Sicily.


The top 1o most visited cities (2019) were Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence, Rimini, Cavallino-Treporti, San Michele al Tagliamento, Jesolo, Caorle, and Naples.


Hotels & Accomodation


There is a wide variety of Italian hotels (1 to 5 stars). In 2017 there were 32.988 hotels and 171.915 extra hotel accommodations (campsites, agritourism facilities, rental accommodations - data from the National Italian Institute of Statistics). The seaside resorts attract 53% of the tourists.


Hotels for sale in Italy:

Source: Wikipedia

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