On the Cusp of a New Era

Alessandra Priante's appointment perfectly aligns with the objective of the new ENIT to bolster the attractiveness of Italy's tourism offerings

By Kushmita Bose

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

As the Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT) welcomes its new president, Alessandra Priante, the country's tourism landscape stands on the brink of a new era.
As the Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT) welcomes its new president, Alessandra Priante, the country's tourism landscape stands on the brink of a new era.

Published: Fri 31 May 2024, 11:57 AM

A LAND OF TIMELESS BEAUTY, rich history, and unparalleled cultural heritage, Italy has long captivated the hearts and minds of travellers worldwide. Now, as the Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT) welcomes its new president, Alessandra Priante, the country's tourism landscape stands on the brink of a new era.

Priante steps into the role at a pivotal moment, backed by a robust career that boasts a wealth of national and international experiences. She previously served as the director for Europe at the UNWTO, the United Nations agency responsible for global tourism, being the first woman and first Italian in the agency's history to hold such a prestigious position.

Additionally, until October 2019, Priante held the position of head of international relations and protocol at the MIPAAFT, where she skillfully managed the transition of tourism policies from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage to the Ministry of Agricultural, Food, Forestry, and Tourism Policies.

With her recent appointment, Priante has outlined several key priorities that includes the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism, the development of innovation and digitisation of the tourism sector, the enhancement of training for tourism operators, and the valorization of the Italian cultural and environmental heritage.

Edited excerpts:

Congratulations on your recent appointment as the President of ENIT — Italian State Tourist Board. What added value do you wish to bring to Italy from your previous experience?

Well, firstly I've been fortunate to serve as the director for Europe at the United Nations Agency for Tourism (UN Tourism), for nearly five years — a role that has been incredibly inspiring and enriching. Now, I'm eager to leverage the invaluable insights and experiences gained from my time there to contribute to the growth and prosperity of my own country. I’m committed to ensuring that Italy thrives and maintains its status as the number one destination in the world in the desires of travellers all over the world.

What would your long-term goals be as the President of ENIT?

Primarily, my objective is to infuse my expertise into refining our strategy. As the operational arm of the ministry, we align closely with our minister's vision and the overarching strategy of our department. Italy's tourism sector is well-established, leveraging our inherent strengths. However, our focus now lies in diversification, innovation, and product enhancement. By intensifying training efforts and targeting key markets like Asia and Middle East, we aim to increase tourism flows to Italy all over the year.

Can you name the three main strategies of Italy as a tourist destination?

To delve beyond the typical holiday experiences and move away from the bustling capital cities that most travellers visit, we aim to curate an internal offering that highlights the charm of boutique villages and lesser-known destinations across the region. Our focus is on creating experiences that exceed expectations, showcasing the unique culture, landscapes, and activities these hidden gems have to offer.

Moreover, we recognise the importance of the human element in tourism. At its core, tourism thrives on connections between people, whether it's locals sharing their traditions or travelers forming bonds with each other. We're committed to fostering these connections, ensuring that every interaction enhances the overall experience and contributes positively to the local economy and community.

Italy has always been a prime destination for Middle Eastern travelers. How is it aiming to increase tourism flows from GCC countries?

To enhance tourism from GCC countries, our focus lies on improving connectivity and targeting the younger segments, as they exhibit a keen interest in exploring our country. These younger travellers have distinct preferences, prioritising sustainability options and seeking immersive life experiences. The impact of Covid-19 has reshaped our approach, prompting us to embrace innovation and digitalisation in our offerings. By prioritising quality over quantity, we aim to invest in cultivating lasting relationships with these new customers, ensuring that our tourism sector evolves to meet their evolving needs and preferences.

In recent years, sustainability and responsible tourism have become increasingly important considerations for travelers. How do you intend to integrate sustainability initiatives into ENIT's strategy to ensure the long-term viability of Italy's tourism industry?

Sustainability is at the forefront of the government's strategy, encompassing not only environmental sustainability, but also economic and social sustainability. Social sustainability, particularly, is paramount as it involves the active engagement of communities in the tourism experience.

We view tourists not just as visitors but as temporary citizens, and it's essential that everyone feels welcomed and included in this shared experience. Whether it's in mature markets like Italy, France, or Spain, ensuring that visitors have a memorable and enriching experience relies on the happiness and involvement of everyone.

In destinations like Venice, for instance, tourists seek authentic interactions with locals and desire to be part of the community's story. Therefore, our approach to tourism prioritises social sustainability, recognising that it is the key to creating a product that endures into the future. By involving everyone in the tourism ecosystem, we ensure that tourism remains a shared endeavour that benefits both visitors and hosts alike.

Digital technology has transformed the way travellers plan and experience their trips. Do you have any strategies in place to enhance tourism offerings?

Absolutely, a digital transformation is essential for our destinations, and it begins with our own organisation. The new ENIT (Italian National Tourist Board) is set to embrace digitalisation, leveraging AI to enhance our services and take tourism to the next level. AI will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in this endeavour, enabling us to provide personalised experiences and streamline operations. This digital focus aligns perfectly with the thematic priorities of the upcoming G7 summit, which, for the first time, will include a dedicated focus on tourism.

Taking place in Florence from November 13 to 15, this landmark event underscores the government's commitment to the tourism sector. It's a significant step forward, highlighting the importance placed on tourism as a driver of economic growth and cultural exchange.

— kushmita@khaleejtimes.com

More news from Business Technology Review