A record number of tourists spend the summer in Italy. Popular

A thirst for Italy, a thirst for the sea – this is how the Italian tourist industry explains the enormous interest in recreation in famous coastal towns this year. A record for the number of foreign tourists was already broken in June. More of them came to Italy than in the last year before the pandemic. The number of Italians who decide to go on holiday in their home country is also higher than before the pandemic.

For the third year in a row, the Italian sea wins over holidays in the Maldives, Mexico and the Seychelles. Italians want to spend their holidays “close to home”, ie in the countryside. Both they and foreigners are looking for expansive, sometimes luxurious beaches and outdoor attractions. Everyone agrees on one thing: the pandemic has changed holiday habits; forever or for a long time.

Tourists often expect beaches that are available from morning to night: in the morning they come to sunbathe and swim in the sea, then many people stay for lunch under an umbrella or in a restaurant on the sand. They also like to dine and dance there. A holiday by the sea increasingly means almost a whole day at the beach.

Aerial view of Rimini Beach, one of the most famous seaside resorts on the Adriatic Riviera. (Photo: PAP/EPA)

The changes in the way we spend the summer are clearly visible in Emilia Romagna, a region with more than 100 kilometers of coastline. There are famous and popular seaside resorts like Rimini, Riccione, Cervia, Milano Marittima, Cattolica – all with hundreds of beaches. Millions of tourists have been coming here for years.

That is also the case this year, as there is a return to the number of tourists before the pandemic. Foreigners returned en masse, mainly Germans, French, Austrians, Swiss, Scandinavians, hungry for a warm sea and a decent sunny dose of vitamin D.

Riviera Romagnola is also one of the favorite summer destinations for Italians who have been coming there for several generations without thinking of going anywhere else. Many hotel owners in Rimini and Riccione say they have had the same customers for decades. They came as children with their parents and now they are every year with their grandchildren. It is also one of the favorite places for summer recreation for Poland.

“Where, if not here, is the best place to get to know the Italian lifestyle? Italia in a nutshell, ie delicious food for which this region is known, discos, dance halls for people of all ages, one great pleasure by the sea” – said one tourist from Warsaw, resting in Cervia. As she noted, she and her family were extremely lucky, because on the first weekend of July, she found the Pink Night, a welcome summer; a series of events throughout the Riviera, reminiscent of the great New Year’s Eve celebration.

The music that comes from everywhere reminds us that it is also the most danceable Italian region. Almost every birthday party at the beach location turns into a dance where other guests join in.

The beaches on the Riviera are bustling with life almost around the clock. Which attractions you can expect there depend on the entrance fee and rent of sunbeds and umbrellas. Renting two beds and a parasol costs about €20 to €30 per day. A subscription for several days or weeks is cheaper. There are showers, bars, restaurants, playgrounds for children, often a small playground. There are also free, free beaches in every town, which are supervised by the local authorities.

But there are also offers for the picky, characterized by luxury and astronomical amounts. On one of Cervia’s most famous beaches, luxurious king-size beds with white mattresses and a canopy for two people are offered for 250 euros per day, and lunch in an elegant restaurant is offered for 250 euros per day. There are tennis courts, beach soccer fields and padel courts, which are becoming increasingly popular in Italy. In the evenings, crowds of holidaymakers gather in the restaurants on the beaches to take a seat at the tables overlooking the sunset by the sea.

The tourism industry is also noticing a significant change in customer expectations after the pandemic. Camping is popular these days. As Angelo Cartelli of a camping chain in seven Italian regions pointed out, even before the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a growing interest in this form of recreation, which ensures that you can stay outside at all times.

“After months of lockdown at the start of the pandemic, this desire for the freedom of camping has grown even more. But it’s not about camping, especially as we remember decades ago – with tents on a meadow. Now customers have high expectations The pandemic is clearly changing expectations accelerated ”- he estimated.

Cartelli also pointed out that many tourists, both Italians and foreigners, want an Italian holiday in the open air, not in enclosed spaces. “We spent the worst phase of the pandemic, and with it the crisis in tourism, on major investments, because it was certain that the form and quality of recreation would change as a result of what happened. Guests expect high-quality services, fast internet , good conditions, they want everything at the highest level “- he said.

“Needs and expectations have changed,” he added. And he emphasized that some customers appreciate staying in such an environment so much that they are also very satisfied with the option of ordering food brought directly to the veranda.

Sylwia Wysocka / PAP Life / Jagoda S.

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