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PRESS RELEASE - Summer 2023 and tourism in Bologna and the metropolitan city

The figures for the summer of 2023 paint a picture of steady and stable growth, with numbers exceeding 2019 levels, in keeping with the excellent trend that prevailed throughout the first half of the year. Many foreign visitors: more than half come from abroad, with the United States in the lead. Tourism proposals linked to culture and the outdoors are once again proving very attractive.

Summer 2023 proves once again to be a season of growth for tourism in Bologna and the metropolitan area, with numbers in line with the excellent results recorded in the first months of the year and even higher than the same period in 2019. A trend that seems to be setting a definitive end to the forced slowdowns that affected the entire tourism sector during the pandemic years.

Despite the record heat, many Italian and foreign tourists chose to visit Bologna and stay overnight in the city between June and July, with August figures corroborating this positive trend as well.

According to data from the H-Benchmark platform, which analyses a sample of more than 3,000 rooms throughout the territory, the average occupancy rate of hotel rooms has been consistently high since June, with peaks of over 90% at various times in both June and July.

Rates were also excellent during the first fortnight of August, with average occupancy exceeding 70% - an increase of 14 percentage points compared to the 56% recorded during the same period in 2019.

A remarkable result, bound to grow further in light of the drastic reduction in the booking gap over the past two years, with more and more tourists favouring last second bookings.

In the summer period, 55% of arrivals in the city consisted of foreign tourists, confirming the trend that witnessed the definitive return of international visitors in 2023. The United States lead the list of origins, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and the Netherlands. A significant increase in arrivals from Scandinavian countries and Switzerland was also recorded.

Tourists, both domestic and international, increasingly prefer to book online rather than in person, with online sales exceeding purchases at the infopoints in Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Nettuno: while bookings on the website accounted for 47% of the total in 2019, in the first half of 2023 they soared to 80% of purchases made digitally, conferming the desire for a more structured, organised and pre-planned experience in the city.

Visitors appreciate the destination's rich cultural diversity and understand the value of the tourism experiences on offer, as evidenced by the increase in the overall number of tours

and products purchased: in the first half of 2023 a 71% increase in sales has been recorded compared to the same period in 2019.

People choosing Bologna and the metropolitan city as their holiday destination show a particular predilection for museum heritage and cultural initiatives, as demonstrated by the sales of the Bologna Welcome Card, the tourist pass that grants access to the main points of historical interest, which in the first half of 2023 increased by 30% compared to the same period in 2019. Purchasers of the Bologna Welcome Card redeemed it to access, on average, two museums - among these, the Civic Archaeological Museum, the Pinacoteca Nazionale, the Museum of the History of Bologna in Palazzo Pepoli and the Compianto in Santa Maria della Vita. 

There was also a great turnout for the first edition of the Festival dei Portici, created to celebrate the UNESCO recognition awarded in 2021, which was attended by over 35,000 people.

Numerous initiatives were organised for citizens and visitors, providing them with the opportunity to rediscover historical buildings that are not normally accessible to the public.

The guided tours of Palazzo Malvezzi De' Medici, organised during the two weekends of the festival, were a great success, with some days sold out, and totalled over 300 visitors.

Likewise sold-out were the two special concerts of the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale followed by a guided tour of Palazzo Caprara Montpensier, seat of the Prefecture of Bologna.

New extraordinary openings are planned for both venues during the autumn season.

The UNESCO recognition of Bologna's porticoes also continues to be enhanced in terms of tourism by a series of dedicated guided tours in Italian and English, including the new "Minibus Tour of the UNESCO Porticoes and San Luca", which allows visitors to explore well-known and lesser-known stretches of Bologna's porticoes, even outside the city centre.

The Asinelli Tower, symbol of the city, is confirmed as a must-see stop for visitors, which on summer weekends extended its opening hours until 9 pm.

In order to ensure a pleasant and safe experience, during the hottest days the capacity of the entrance slots was reduced in the 11:00-17:30 time slot from 25 to a maximum of 15 participants.

The Clock Tower, opened in October 2020, has also been very well received. The ticket is sold in combination with admission to the Municipal Art Collections, another popular tourist attraction.

The classic Discover Bologna is continuing, the two-hour walking tour through the heart of the city, guaranteed every day in Italian and English and once a week in Spanish. This experience, which is postponed to 5 p.m. during the summer months, is always a great success among the national and international public.

Not only monuments and museums: great success also for the seventh art, with a record-breaking edition of the Festival of Il Cinema Ritrovato, which totalled almost 5,000 accredited visitors from 51 countries and over 120,000 admissions.

Festivals in the metropolitan area are flourishing, with the unmissable Crinali Festival, now in its fourth edition, offering hundreds of routes and events in the Bologna Apennines.

The metropolitan territory is proving to be a major attraction not only for citizens but also for tourists, who are discovering its immense potential, as witnessed by the high turnout at the eXtraBO information point in Piazza del Nettuno.

Among the most popular products were maps and credentials for the Via degli Dei and the Via della Lana e della Seta , as well as information on cycling itineraries such as the Sun Route, demonstrating the growing interest in slow and sustainable tourism.

The new tour proposals in the catalogue signed eXtraBO are also selling very well: ranging from cultural itineraries "A journey among villas and castles" to the food and wine tours of "Along the Tasty Way", over "Backpacking" walks for trekking enthusiasts and "A night out" to discover the area by moonlight.



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