The regional Tourism councilor explains what investments are being made to improve services and increase presences in Sicily in all months of the year

From the increase in tourism in recent years in Sicily to the construction of new infrastructures to improve services, from the Messina Bridge to the deseasonalization of tourist flows, there are many important issues for the future of Sicilian tourism. We forwarded our questions on these topics to the Regional Tourism Councilor Elvira Amata. Here are the answers she sent to our editorial staff.

elvira amata

Sicily has had a strong increase in tourism, especially foreign tourism, in the last two years. What are the reasons for this growth?

The result obtained is the result of the effectiveness of the sector policies put in place by the Department and of the work done in terms of identifying the target markets and actions to promote the destination. Particular attention was also paid to policies aimed at deseasonalizing tourist flows and promoting inland areas, less frequented by mass tourism. In this sense, the statistical data confirm a strongly positive trend of tourist presences, especially foreigners, in the low season periods. Certainly thanks to a favorable climate, with always mild winters, as well as the Sicilian cultural panorama which is increasingly rich in events, In addition to the lengthening of the tourist season, particular importance has been given to the sustainability of tourism, which is becoming increasingly responsible and attentive to environment. We have strongly valorised an ever-increasing competitiveness of tourism businesses, also due to the specific skills in the field which have once again passed into the ownership of the Department, enhancing a greater integrated use of cultural and environmental resources and assets with the aim of reversing the trend of seasonality thanks also to the new trends of change in travel behavior that emerged during the pandemic period and the new needs of the tourists, increasingly oriented towards proximity, slow and experiential tourism. We therefore want to make our destination increasingly ready to attract and welcome a new demand, greener, oriented towards nature, culture and sustainability, through an offer in line with new demand trends which appears increasingly focused on forms of tourism that go beyond the more traditional tourism routes. Lastly, a further element characterizing this significant growth is certainly given by the particular synergy that was sought to materialize within the territory with the various actors in the tourism supply chain with the precise objective of profiling a tourist offer that is as integrated and complementary as possible which both the synthesis of the different specificities that the territory as a whole expresses. We are particularly satisfied for having contributed to promoting this approach of sharing with respect to the choices to be oriented.

Tourists in Sicily find an excellent welcome and a mild climate but, often, inadequate connections. Messina Bridge aside, what are the investments that should be made to improve connections within the region?

I would start from a necessary premise which, instead, places emphasis on the strategic importance that the construction of the bridge over the strait has today. This is an infrastructure that will finally allow the development of an infrastructural network of significant importance precisely in the consideration that it will be the infrastructure itself that will attract new investments and further development opportunities. It is necessary to put aside those anachronistic exploitations which until now have characterized an old way of approaching the issue which has generated a now stale debate regarding the need to respond to modern and more current criteria of concreteness and coherence. The bridge over the strait will be built and, in this sense, the Prime Minister provided the necessary reassurances, maintaining with conviction that development and cohesion funds are the main resources to combat the gaps between territories, between North and South, East and West, even within the territories. We are fully convinced of this. The Sicilian Region, for its part, is doing its part. We have already expressed, as a regional government, our willingness to invest over a billion euros to co-finance the construction of the infrastructure. The investment will allow Sicily to participate, with a 10% share, in the construction of the infrastructure that will connect the island to Calabria. The overall cost of the work is estimated at approximately 12 billion euros. The Region, in detail, will contribute with one billion euros from resources from the new programming of the Development and Cohesion Fund (FSC) 2021-2027, and with a further 200 million resulting from savings related to national resources for the 2014-2020 cycle not yet spent. With this measure of appreciation by the Council, we have laid the foundations for giving a decisive acceleration to the construction of what will be a strategic infrastructure for the future of Sicily. Having said this, there is no doubt that there is still a lot to do, in the sense that it will be necessary to organise a railway and road network in step with the times, creating an interconnection between airports, ports and freight villages and paying particular attention to internal roads. In other words, it is certainly necessary to adapt the infrastructure in question to a more general and functional context. Also in this sense, the Sicilian Region has already activated concrete and virtuous actions aimed at a greater and more solid infrastructural network by activating construction sites and carrying out projects of particular importance.

Sicily is often spoken of as a place where the climate would allow a constant flow of tourists in all months of the year. What is being done to improve seasonal adjustment?

The element of seasonal adjustment represents one of the main factors characterizing the particular connotation of the Department’s programming in absolute coherence with the programming tools in force and with the actions we are activating with the primary objective of implementing the brand of Sicily, increasingly favoring a greater concentration of tourists in all months of the year. With this in mind, we have strengthened specific actions aimed at extending the tourist season as much as possible through specific initiatives which have recorded – data in hand – an increase in tourist flows in the low season. By way of example, I refer to the events that constitute privileged instruments such as the Sicilia Jazz Festival, the Bellini Celebrations, the Coppa degli Assi and the Historic Trains held even in periods of low season. Confirming the goodness of the choices made, we were able to verify that during 2023 tourist flows were no longer concentrated exclusively in the summer periods, as in the past, but saw a different, more general concentration throughout the year, more so in the periods from January to March, especially with reference to foreigners. A significant step forward with respect to the now set objective of implementing the element of seasonal adjustment.

Tourism promotion is the basis of success for every region (we have also seen this thanks to the strong appeal generated by the television series that have been filmed in Sicily). What are the next projects to promote Sicily in Italy and around the world? What investments will the Region make?

As regards the specific sector of audiovisual productions, the Sicilian Region is ensuring continuity in tourism production investments through film tourism, in the full belief that this instrument, together with the others, significantly contributes to highlighting the beauty of our land, determining an extraordinarily effective attraction factor. After having investing over 20 million in the previous three years, in 2024 a further 4 million euros were allocated and put out to tender to encourage the production of films, TV series, documentaries and short films in the regional territory, as well as the creation of festivals and exhibitions cinematographic, with which we also aim to deseasonalize attendance towards less frequented destinations outside the traditional peak months of tourist flows.

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