Interview with Barbara Argiolas, Councillor for Tourism, Crafts and Trade in the Autonomous Region of Sardinia.
The Italian market is still our main catchment, although in the past few years we’ve seen stronger growth coming from foreign tourism: during the first nine months of 2017, in fact, the trend of the past few years has strengthened, with an increase in foreign visitors from 46.8% to 49.3% of the total and a decrease in the Italian share from 53.2% to 50.7%.
We don’t interpret this data as showing a reduction in interest from the Italian market but as a balancing of market shares. This is caused above all by a rise in interest from foreigners during the spring and autumn months, while Italian visitors remain more concentrated on the summer months. A strengthening of tourism during the months before and after the summer is one of our strategic objectives and we’re implementing some strong initiatives, such as an advertising campaign within the Italian and international air travel infrastructure, to encourage a lengthening of the tourist season.
The seaside remains our core business – that’s beyond discussion and it’s what we’re best known for. But Sardinia offers more than just its environment and landscape, and it’s an ideal destination for visitors throughout the year. From 2016 data and the numbers we already have for 2017 we know that the months before and after the summer are of greater interest to the foreign market, especially Germany, France, Holland, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Belgium. The relevant products – which we’re working on with companies and local authorities to build a competitive offering that’s no longer subordinate to the seaside and can become an effective holiday magnet – are those centred upon active tourism, the outdoors, religious tourism, food and wine tourism, conferences and historic villages. We have a unique historic and archaeological heritage in the Mediterranean, which we intend to underline to ensure that visitors no longer stay only on the coast but are tempted to explore the whole area, combining the discovery and enjoyment of the environment, landscape and cultural heritage with that of our outstanding crafts, wines and foods and all the forms of hospitality that the land and communities of Sardinia can offer. My department is therefore currently concentrating its attention and efforts on developing a centralized management. This will enhance regional projects to create the infrastructure and services for new types of tourism that can attract visitor flows throughout the year, thus enabling businesses to invest in deseasonalization.
The new-look trade fair will be taking place with the season practically at the starting blocks, and this is an incentive to project our programming towards the 2019 season. We intend to continue along the path taken in the past few years: Sardinia remains a highly appealing holiday destination and, through strong coordination with operators, ports and airports, we want to make it an increasingly accessible option. The Region’s role is to facilitate the work of operators in the target markets by promoting Sardinia in Italy and abroad and by being present at the main industry trade fairs, aiming for a collaboration to enable an increase in visitor flows and the consolidation of those that already exist.”