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Bed & Breakfasts in Italy: The case of the Emilia-Romagna Region

di Teresa Branzaglia

Alma Mater Studiorum
Università di Bologna
School of Economics Management and Statistics
Campus Rimini
Second Cycle Degree Programme in Tourism Economics and Management
Relatore: Manuela Presutti
Anno Accademico: 2015/2016

2.3 - Emilia-Romagna: the touristic structure

“Land with a soul. People with a smile.” Emilia-Romagna is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. In 2015, it welcomed 8.781.000 visitors, totalizing 46.169.000 overnight stays. The 24,8% comes from foreign markets (Germany, Russia, Switzerland, BE.NE.LUX, France, and East Europe), while domestic tourism represents the 75,2%. The Region boasts 42.650 hotels (from 1 to 5 stars), 287.800 hotel beds, 836.000 apartment beds, about 2000 B&Bs, etc.

As for the regional organization in terms of tourism, the main actors are the Region, the “Apt Servizi”, the “Unioni di Prodotto”, the “Club di Prodotto”, and the TCC (Tourism Consultation Committee). To the Region are reserved the primary tasks related to regulation, planning and guidance, and financial support to public and private entities operating within the regional tourism organization. Regional planning is outlined in the multi-year program of regional interventions for the tourism promotion and marketing.

More in general, the Emilia-Romagna Region carries out the following activities:

  1. Planning and coordination of tourism activities and initiatives
  2. Promotion in Italy and abroad of the Regional tourist offer and image
  3. Promotion of aggregation processes of enterprises and integration between public & private
  4. Development of the Regional Tourism Information System
  5. Development of the Regional Observatory on Tourism
  6. Stimulation of the regional tourism system and industry through supporting public and private investments (RL 40/2002)

The “Apt Servizi”, instead, is the company formed by the Emilia-Romagna Region (which holds 51% of shares) and the Chambers of Commerce of Emilia- Romagna through Unioncamere Emilia-Romagna (which holds 49% of the shares). The tasks entrusted to APT Servizi play a role of primary importance for the development and innovation of the regional tourism system.

These tasks can be summarized as follows:

  • Management and implementation of the Regional promotional and marketing plans and project;
  • Management of promotional and marketing projects in international markets;
  • Integrated promotion and enhancement of tourism, environmental resources, cultural resources, as well as of local crafts and typical products of agriculture;
  • Technical and scientific assistance to the Region;
  • Validation of tourism projects to be carried out in international markets;
  • Coordination and supply of services to encourage and achieve the internationalization of tourism enterprises.

Regarding the “Unioni di Prodotto”, they were created through the regional law 7/98 and they are associations that aggregate public institutional actors (such as local authorities and Chambers of Commerce) and private entities (companies) involved in the development and promotion of the four main products characterizing tourism in the Region Emilia-Romagna (the Coast, the Art Cities, the SPAs, the Apennine Mountains and Green Areas). The “Unioni” are the meeting point between promotion implemented by the public shareholders and trade/marketing operated by private shareholders. Every “Unione” appears as a network interwoven into local authorities, chambers of commerce, companies, “club di prodotto” (aggregation of companies), and cooperatives. The Assembly of the “Unione” – with the presence of public and private members - consults, outlines and approves the “Product Promotional and Marketing Plan” which is oriented, primarily, to the Italian market. The private shareholders build their marketing projects in full synergy with the guidelines given by the Region and the promotional and marketing plans by “Apt Servizi” and by the “Unione” of which they are members. The Unioni are financially supported by the Region and by the members.

As for the “Club di Prodotto”, they are the private shareholders of the “Unioni”. More in detail, they are companies, cooperatives, and aggregations of companies with the role of packaging the rich and varied offer of the Emilia-Romagna Region.

Last but not least, the TCC is a Committee with the task of performing functions of strategic and programmatic consultation for the development of tourism marketing and promotion activities. The members are institutional representative (public and private) of the tourism sector in Emilia-Romagna. In particular, the Tourism Consultation Committee formulates proposals and gives advice to the Regional Government concerning: acts of tourism intervention, programming, promotion and marketing, the work of the Regional Tourism Observatory, and plans / projects by “Apt Servizi”, “Unioni”, and Provinces.

The regional law 7/98 introduced some innovative standards and methodologies, among which we list: the principle of consultation to enforce the cooperation between public and private (i.e. the Consultation Board); the principle of close connection of the promotional initiatives and plans with the marketed product, the area, and the destination; the principle of co-financing aimed at encouraging the public and private investments in tourism to develop tourism promotional activities (public boards) and business tourism marketing activities (private companies) through a rigorous selection of projects and the checks that the selected projects are part of an overall planning and coordination; the principle of rewarding the gathering and the cooperation among the private tourist companies (“club di prodotto”); the creation of an integrated tourism system between public and private which overcomes the “old” logic of resource allocation on the basis of geographical or administrative reasons: the “today” system sets at the centre of strategies and planning the tourist product, which, on the other hand, drives the enhancement of territories and destinations.

The four main products that characterize the Emilia-Romagna offer, as we already explained in the paragraph about Unioni di Prodotto, are: The Adriatic Riviera (81.2% market share), the Art cities and UNESCO world heritage sites (11.1% market share), the green areas and Apennine mountains (4.4% market share), and the Spas & Wellness (3.3% market share). In the last years, it was developed a new concept and a new brand to communicate, promote and market the “re-newed” tourist offer of Emilia-Romagna Region. It is called the “special interest offer” and the aim is to transform the traditional holiday into a real travel experience. Past and present times, tradition and innovation, a unique opportunity to experience the Italian lifestyle, a full immersion in the heritage of Emilia-Romagna Region, a journey that excites and enriches along an «ideal» path defined by the ancient consular road “Via Emilia”.

Via Emilia, with its millenary history (over 2.200 year), is the «red thread» connecting the excellences of Emilia-Romagna to the new art of tourism – the travel experience. Following the Via Emilia, visitors can experience and meet, one after the other, the Region’s tourist highlights, great brands that have made Italy famous in the world, the Italian Motor Valley (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ducati), the Italian Food Valley (41 PDO and PGI products – i.e. Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma, aceto balsamico tradizionale), the Wellness Valley, the numerous fashion studios (Max Mara, Blumarine, La Perla, Furla), high-tech industries, art (Verdi, Pavarotti, Fellini), culture, Emilia-Romagna people, etc.

The «Food Valley» experience is based on cooking workshops, Food & Wine museums, events, and festivals. The «Motor Valley» experience, on the other hand, is based on the Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati museums, the private collections (i.e. Panini collection of Maserati cars), the racing tracks, the GP (Autodromo of Imola), the glamorous motor racing competitions (i.e. 1000 Miglia), the drive test with a shiny red Ferrari, etc.

The Wellness Valley project aims at transforming the Region Romagna into the first district in the world for Wellness, Wellbeing expertise, and quality of life. The idea was launched by Technogym’s founder Nerio Alessandri in 2002 and has been carried out by The Wellness Foundation. It involves various stakeholders and it is based on placing all the excellence of the territory in a network aimed to constant improvement. The benefits are two ways: inwards (improvement in the quality of life of the residents) and outwards (increase in the appeal of the territory for tourist purposes). It draws inspiration from local heritage (people, traditions, history, art, nature, food and wine) and from the Wellness lifestyle (regular physical exercise, healthy nutrition, positive mental approach).

The «Bike» experience is also important. We are a leading Italian destination in the niche market of bike tourism, with routes for all kinds of cycling levels, an unbelievably extended network of Bike hotels, and plenty of cycling events and competitions. Here it is imperative to mention the unforgettable “Pirate” Marco Pantani, born and raised in Cesena.