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ERACLITO (535-470 a.C)

aprile: 2018
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Toward 2030: Rimini Tourist Industry in Global Competition

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 Brief History

The first “Privilege Beach Facility” opened in Rimini on July 30, 1843, under the papal rule. At that time, sea swimming was mainly meant for therapeutic purposes and was enjoyed by aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Later on, while users number increased, a hotel was built and the first Hydrotherapy Facility opened its doors in 1876. At the beginning of the twentieth century (1908) the Rimini Grand Hotel was up and running, and it later became famous thanks to Rimini native director Federico Fellini’s masterpiece, Amarcord. A few years later, in the thirties, the Riccione Grand Hotel was also started.

After First World War, and even more after the Second, mass tourism replaced elite tourism as economic boom propelled new life standards. Several new hotels were built up along the seashore. Employees’ and workers’ families – the new middle class – could then afford to go on holidays. And many of them chose the Rimini Riviera, which became the Italians’ favorite seaside destination, along with many foreigners’, especially Germans.

Rimini Riviera Tourism

 Rimini Riviera can count on 3.5 million visitors per year and 16 million overnight stays. It is also worth saying that it had peaks of 18 million visitors per year in the eighties. These figures, 15 Km of beaches and 700 beach facilities make of Rimini Riviera one of the most popular beach destinations in Italy.

Additionally, in order to be attractive beyond summer season, in the seventies the Riviera was endowed with modern convention and exhibition facilities, which have just now been completely renewed. The Rimini Exhibition Center, in alliance with the Vicenza Exhibition Center, can currently count on the second biggest exhibition area in Italy after Milan. On the other hand, the Rimini Convention Center and Riccione’s, are both among the largest in Italy as they can accommodate all together 11 thousand people (9 thousand in Rimini’s and 2 thousand in Riccione’s).

Visitors mainly arrive by car, and a few of them from abroad come by plane. They can choose among 2 thousand hotels, that are mostly 3 stars, and another 5 hundred similar accommodations, which all together make for a bed capacity of 170 thousand. Although many hotels have been renewed over the last few decades, they are mainly medium-sized and have an average capacity of 70 beds. This bed capacity is within the average on a national level; however, it represents about half the capacity of a hotel in Catalonia, Spain. Although, it must be said that hotel occupancy rate in Barcelona is generally higher: casting around 80%.

Local hotels and restaurants employ about 30 thousand people: 1/4 of the total employment number in the area. Employees are mainly seasonal workers, women, and immigrants. They get a daily pay of 60€ after taxes, which is the worst paid job among the service sectors. Despite that, salaries are about the same as similar countries such as Spain and Catalonia, which are on the other hand more competitive with respect to tourist industry.

The competitiveness of the local tourist industry

While preserving visits at a stable rate, Rimini tourist market cannot keep up with international tourist growth, as it is the case with Spain and Catalonia. Several comparisons between Italy and these areas are provided along this essay. Spain is obtaining consistent growth of its market by operating over six main factors: substantial public and private investment, good flight connection, a wide range of tourist products, a lot of innovation, competitive prices and good communication.

Rimini’s development is stuck, as current overnight stays are as many as in 2000. At that time, overnight stays  were already a few million below the peak that local market reached in the eighties. overnight stays Attempts to promote visits by widening the offering to the valleys (Valmarecchia and Valconca) – along with beach facilities – were not successful. The only exception is the exhibition and convention centers that between October and April – meaning non-peak season – make up about 1/6 of all overnight stays in the area.

While tourism grows internationally, the still number of overnight stays against the higher number of visits has to be associated to the failure to keep up with the dynamism and competitiveness of the international tourist market.

This lack of competitiveness is also confirmed by the general decline of the number of foreign visitors in the whole region, which dropped from 6.5 million in the eighties to 3.5 million today. This means that, while foreign visitors earlier represented 1/3 of the total of visits, now they represent less than ¼. Among foreign visitors, German tourists are still the largest group. However, within this group the number of overnight stays decreased by 1/3 since the beginning of the century.

The area seems no longer attractive to foreign tourists and, as a consequence, the average spending of foreign visitors is today 600 million, as much as 16 years ago. Adjusted to inflation this makes of course for a lower income. If only the area could count on the number of overnight stays of its best years, the average spending could reach up to 250 million euros (estimating an average daily spending of 95 euros).

Rimini Tourism System Model towards 2030

According to forecasts, in the next few years tourism will keep growing at a rate of 3 to 4% per year, and in 2030 there will be a little less than 2 billion travelers in the world.

In order to bring more visitors, especially foreigners, to Rimini some critical issue will have to be addressed:

  1. Airline connections for medium and long distances. Poor connection strongly limits the number of prospect visitors and especially affects the exhibition and convention industry. For instance, back to Spain 4 foreign visitors out of 5 get there by plane. The new private management of Rimini Airport seems promising. However, a successful management will have to be measured against results.
  2. There are a lot of accommodation facilities in the area. However, excluding a few exceptions, they are all too small to work with big tour operators and on-line platforms such as Priceline, Expedia, etc., which control 60% of the European market. If of all the hotels in the area there were at least 10 to 20 that had a bed capacity above 200 this would probably make the Riviera much more attractive to foreign investors. At the same time, medium and high-end hotels should be promoted to business travellers that come for exhibitions and conventions.
  3. Dispersion and the lack of diversity among the accommodation facilities (2/3 belong to the same category) account for two more critical issues:

– Limited resources to reinvest in innovation, digitization and data analysis, which are of paramount importance for a competitive and customized service;

– Poor diversity in what hotels have to offer. For instance, nowadays you can not only get a low-cost flight, but also low-cost hotels (such as AO Hotel), which best suits young people’s and millennials’ lifestyle: a growing market segment.

Ultimately, Rimini tourist industry can count on a good educational system, and has the potential to start growing again. This will also stimulate employment.

In order to reach this goal, an accurate analysis of the current situation and a development plan that includes new products must be agreed on. Careful consideration must be given to the fact that hotels must keep occupancy rates high throughout the year, and that industry needs to be competitive on an international level, especially at a European.

(Translated by Luca Silvestri)

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