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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

1.1 - Origin and Development of “B&Bs”

According to one of the most exhaustive definitions given to the phenomenon, a Bed and Breakfast (also called B&B) is a small business where the owners rent out a small number of rooms in a private home to travellers on a short-term basis (Angowski Rogak, 1995). It is assumed that the bed & breakfast is the institutionalization of a widespread need of the past centuries, when both for the scarcity of connections and the absence of rapid means of transport, travelers used to ask for hospitality in private homes. The kind of receptive structure that we know today was born in Ireland in the ‘20s, when families decided to give their children’s room/s for rent once they moved away for working or studying reasons.

It is just from Ireland and the United Kingdom that comes not only the name but also the consolidation of a formula that is now internationally established. In fact, from there it expanded to Europe, to the United States, to Australia, etc. The last data available on the phenomenon show that the number of structures has been significantly growing over the years. Unfortunately, since it still is a little slice of the “hospitality cake”, exact global numbers are not available, but we can try to guess there might be approximately 200.000 B&Bs in the world, of which more or less 17.000 in the U.S.A., 70.000 spread around Europe, and about 25.000 in Italy.

As time passed by, the number of services offered has increased, prices are no longer the same, and the simple sign has been replaced by tourist guides, the Internet and all the other numerous promotion channels; despite that the bed & breakfast maintains the same concept of the old times: to open one’s home to guests.