From tourists to travellers. The travel industry has undergone an important transformation in the past few years.
Travellers do not just visit a place, they want to experience the destination with their five senses, enjoying the flavours, listening to the sound of new languages and music, admiring breathtaking views, and observing the details of the art and culture of a place, but also learning about habits and traditions or tuning into a place in different ways, by walking, diving, or practicing extreme sports.
To meet this evolution more effectively, Bit – International Tourism Exchange – has completely renewed its format. The trade fair will make its return to fiermamilanocity, in close contact with the heart of Italy’s capital of business, and will take place from today, Sunday 2 to Tuesday 4 April.
Its new layout is based on target segmentation – with three macro-areas, Leisure, Luxury, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) – where professionals and travellers can experience the new concept of tourism driven by lifestyles.
The three themed areas, designed in collaboration with experts from each sector, will focus on particularly performing segments – A Bit of Taste for wine and food, I Love Wedding for wedding tourism, and Be Tech for the digital world, as well as a new area dedicated to LGBT tourism, one of the most promising travel niches, endorsed by ILGTA (the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association).
A tour of Italy to be remembered
This year, the hottest destination for those who love nature is the South of Italy. Abruzzi and Molise, which will be back at Bit after having skipped a few editions, are becoming a true paradise for cycle tourism, thanks to unique sheep tracks connecting sea areas and mountains, crossing the Majella National Park and charming villages, such as Roccaraso in the Abruzzi or Vastogirardi in Molise, and Italy’s “Little Tibet”, the Gran Sasso. This geographic area will be represented at the trade fair by the Consortium Gran Sasso d’Italia L’Aquila and Terre Vestine.
Those who prefer cultural holidays will fall in love with Marche. Two UNESCO cities, like Urbino and Fabriano (the capital of the paper industry), are the perfect background for Raffaello and Lorenzo Lotto’s artworks. Veneto is another pleasant comeback at Bit 2017, with its impressive portfolio of art cities, three of which (Venice, Verona, and Vicenza) have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. To learn everything about the unique city of Venice, travellers cannot miss the offering of Consortium Venezia Unica. Those who want to discover new places can visit Lidi di Chioggia and its famous fishermen’s houses, which stand out for their bright and different colours.
At Bit 2017, business travel professionals will have the opportunity to learn more about Veneto, as the Region has chosen to be present in the Leisure and MICE areas. Puglia has been considered a top holiday destination for ages – also for celebrity weddings – with its unique mix of nature, culture, and wine and food tradition. Today, this region is on the rise in the convention industry, as it provides unique locations for its exhibition venues, like castles, historical residences, villas, and farmhouses surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.
Tuscany will be present in the three themed areas: Leisure, Luxury and MICE. Tuscany’s offering is one of the most complete in Italy. Here, fitwalking enthusiasts can combine history, culture, and fitness by walking along the Via Francigena, while wine lovers can take a break in one of the 65 luxury wine resorts, which insist on Chianti and Montalcino, some of the world’s most prestigious terroirs. If Tuscany’s historical-artistic offering does not require further presentations, on the conference industry front, this Region attracts over 3 million business tourists every year, thanks to its main congress venues and “minor” charming locations.
As a guarantee of the quality of Italy’s product selection, Bit 2017 will be endorsed by MiBACT – the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.
A window on an increasingly variegated world
The concept of travel is changing even in the outbound market. Bit 2017 will reflect the new trend, which consists in leaving the beaten track for more original and surprising destinations, without neglecting the most popular destinations among Italians, such as the United States, represented by Visit USA, the greatest association of the tour operator industry. Industry players and visitors will be excited to learn more about the national parks, the vibrant cities of the East and West Coast – Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Boston – or experience journeys on the footprints of country music in Tennessee or of Jazz in Louisiana.
Those who believe that there are no corners left to discover in the Mediterranean must think twice. Albania with its 360 km of untouched coast speckled with islands and its historical and spa cities, such as Elbasan, will surprise them. As well as Algeria, where ancient fortress cities, like Oran and Tamanrasset, feature modern resorts along white beaches.
Tourists who prefer sunbathing under a palm tree will find their paradise in Belize, former British colony in the ancient Yucatán. Those directed to the Southern Seas can discover New Caledonia, where untouched nature and tribal culture are just a few flight hours away from Asia or Australia. At Bit 2017, adventure enthusiasts will have the opportunity to learn more about Uganda, Central Africa’s green heart, Ecuador and Guatemala, with their subtropical forests, Pacific coasts, and Indigenous people, and Ethiopia, suspended between Coptic ancestral traditions and unique nature.
When it comes to cultural holidays, travellers have a wide selection of options, from Turkey – on the footsteps of ancient populations, such as the Phrygians or Hittites or along St. Paul Trail – to Cambodia, with its unique Khmer temples, to Iran’s holy sites. Other top destinations include Japan, with its mix of modernity and tradition, and Argentina, South America’s most European country, where Buenos Aires’ Belle Époque merges with the unique landscapes of the pampa and Andean cordillera.
Where to go for your honeymoon or for a wedding on the beach? Mauritius has been voted among the 5 favourite places for a destination wedding, because of its white beaches, crystal clear seas, and minimum red tape. Thailand is also a popular destination where to organise an unforgettable wedding according to local traditions and rituals.
The outbound segment will be endorsed by ADUTEI – the Association of Official Delegates of Foreign Tourism in Italy. The offering will be completed by top players of different segments. Among major hotel groups, we have Barceló, with over 100 hotels in 20 countries, and Atahotels – Una Hotels, the first Italian group counting 43 hotels in 25 destinations, besides charming hotels like Palazzo di Varignana or Su Gologone. The cruise industry will be represented by MSC Crociere, market leader in Europe (Mediterranean included), South America, and South Africa; whereas, Air India, Aeroflot, Finnair, All Nippon, and Sky Alliance will represent the aircraft industry. An important presence for the digital world will be that of Trivago, the leading price comparison portal with over 1.3 million hotels from 200 booking websites, analysed via 55 platforms in 33 languages.
Bit 2017’s strengths: high-profiled buyers and a matchmaking platform
In line with the format’s innovation, this edition will stand out for its increased accuracy in profiling and selecting over 1,500 Italian and international hosted buyers, with a replacement rate of almost 60%. This has been possible thanks to an intensive scouting activity carried out throughout the year and continuous selections carried out by international agents.
Bit 2017 has invested a considerable amount of money and energy in buyers and the Selection Committee has chosen them according to parameters that ensure quality and interest in the segments participating in Bit and based on the turnover resulting from the represented destinations.
The selection focused on geographic areas having greater inbound and outbound flows, and the highest growth rates. 44% of buyers come from Europe, Italians’ favourite destination abroad. Estimates indicate that over 36 million Italians travel in Europe every year, against 38 million Europeans who come to Italy.
Moreover, 25% of travellers who come to Italy is from North and South America. Always according to the estimates, Italian travellers who go to these countries are 2.7 million against over 7.5 million Americans who come to Italy, with a growth rate of up to +24.7% for those coming from Central and South America.
22% of buyers come from Asia, which records about 6.6 million arrivals in Italy (about +30%), while it welcomes 2.5 million Italians, together with Russia with 2 million tourists.
North Africa and the Middle East record growth rates of +26.6%, with about 1.5 million arrivals. On the other hand, Australia boasts about 1 million inbound arrivals, with a growth of about +5% (data from Bank of Italy for the outbound market and ISTAT/EMIT for the inbound market).
As for the areas of interests, 71% of buyers focuses more on Leisure, 21% on MICE, and 6% on Luxury. As for the industry players, 52% are tour operators, 32% travel agencies, 9% Professional Congress and Event Organisers, 5% incentive houses, and 3% corporate travel managers.
Bit’s matchmaking system is the result of research and constant update. An innovative and user-friendly product, which maximises the buyers’ schedule and customises their visit experience, allowing them to program the appointments half an hour earlier at the exhibitor’s stand.
The exhibition and business matching activities will be further enhanced by a rich schedule of over 90 conferences, split into 4 areas: Training (dedicated to Travel Agents and Hoteliers), Hot Topics, Big News, and Technology.
Moreover, on Sunday 2 April, you will have the opportunity to visit miart with your Bit 2017 ticket and learn more about the contaminations of art and culture in the tourism world. Active tourism enthusiasts will be involved in numerous demonstrations and events, such as the EA7 Europ Assistance Milano Marathon.