Facts and figures about the so-called “Turismo delle Radici”
- Il “Turismo delle Radici” (tourism based on family and cultural roots, leading travellers to visit friends and relatives) is a tourist offer structured through appropriate communication strategies, which combines the supply of goods and services of the tertiary sector (accommodation, food and wine, guided tours) with the knowledge of the family history and culture of origin of Italians living abroad and of descendants of Italian origin who are estimated to be a catchment area of nearly 80 million people.
- In 1997 ENIT had estimated that 5.8 million travellers visiting Italy fell within this category of tourism. In 2018, eleven years later, that number increased to 10 million (+72.5%).
- In 2018 the economic inflow generated by the “Turismo delle Radici” amounted to around 4 billion euros (up by 7.5% compared to the previous year).
The opportunities opened up by the “Turismo delle Radici”
- Responding to the digital challenge: the “Turismo delle Radici” takes advantage of innovative channels, since the widespread dissemination of information and the search for documents on family history will pass through websites. Furthermore, administrators of small villages, owners of holiday farms, and families active in the field of accommodation and hospitality can use social networks to inform tourists about their roots.
- Eco-sustainability: the “Turismo delle Radici” leaves behind the destinations touched by traditional tourist flows, enhancing lesser known and less developed areas of Italy, which can thus bridge their economic growth gap while respecting their rural nature, in an eco-sustainable manner. On the one hand, the enhancement of small towns and the countryside allows the renovation and recovery of disused dwellings and infrastructure and, on the other, it also favours the providers of local services and products (above all, food and wine). This type of tourists are “ambassadors” of the territories that preserve their family history (usually the small villages).).
- Incentive for youth employment: the tourist operator specialising in this type of travels is a new profile: in order to ensure a high-level tourist offer, an important goal is to promote the training of this type of tourist operators, in coordination with the central administrations concerned, academic and research centres, local authorities, economic operators in the tourist sector and associations active in the area. In this way, employment is stimulated, especially youth employment, precisely in the areas affected by progressive depopulation, which are the areas preferred by this type of tourism.
The role played by the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate General for Italians Abroad
The Foreign Ministry’s Directorate General for Italians Abroad (DGIT) recognised the potential offered by this tourist segment and, on May 29, 2018, jointly with ENIT and the associations RAIZ ITALIANA and ASMEF (Associazione Mezzogiorno Futuro), it organized the first technical coordination round table discussion on the “Turismo delle Radici” held at the Foreign Ministry, with the aim of establishing a network of public and private players interested in the creation and promotion of a nationwide tourist offer. The meetings, which were then repeated in 2019, 2020 and 2021, gave rise to a series of projects supported by the Foreign Ministry such as:
- a series of guidebooks entitled: “Guide to Italian roots. A journey in the footsteps of your ancestors”. The first volume, drafted by the Italian Association Raiz, has been published in Italian-English, Italian-Spanish, Italian-Portuguese and Italian-French (downloadable here below) and includes four regions: Apulia, Basilicata, Abruzzi and Emilia Romagna. It was subsequently presented in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay in an institutional tour organised with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and the collaboration of the Italian Embassies, ENIT and the regions involved in the project. The Association is working on the second volume, again supported by MAECI’s DGIT, which will be published by July 2021 and will include the regions of Calabria, Sicily, Molise, and Lombardy.
- A qualitative-quantitative research entitled “Scoprirsi Italiani: i viaggi delle radici in Italia” by the Osservatorio delle radici italiane, created within the AsSud Association. By means of a questionnaire translated into five languages, in-depth interviews and focus groups, the survey aims to carefully examine the sense and significance of roots, the tourist demand of Italian descendants living in the five continents of the world and their travel expectations, with the aim of providing useful tools for institutions and operators to create an adequate tourist offer.
- A study-research on the characteristics of this type of tourists with specific reference to the Italian community in Argentina, particularly that of Calabrian origin, conducted by the University of Calabria jointly with the Universities of Torino and Mar Del Plata.
- A first level training master’s degree course entitled “Expert in the organisation and management of the “Turismo delle radici“ – established upon the proposal of the Department of Business and Legal Sciences of the University of Calabria and with the support of the Foreign Ministry – which aims to train professionals capable of participating in the planning and organisation of a tourist offer targeted to this type of travellers.
In addition to these projects for research, training, identification and promotion of the main tourist attractions, there are many others proposed by the members of the technical panel and supported by MAECI’s DGIT that could help generate tourist demand and meet our compatriots’ needs and expectations.
The importance of memory: “Italians Abroad, Diaries Tell Stories”
Enhancing the role of memory is related to the “Turismo delle radici“. The stories of emigration, sacrifice and success of ancestors are a sound point of reference for Italian descendants in the five continents of the world. Precisely for this reason, the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate General for Italians Abroad and Migration Policies has funded the project “Italians Abroad, Diaries Tell Stories”, a selection of the most significant parts of the testimonies in the collection catalogued under the topic “emigration” at the National Diary Archive Foundation in Pieve Santo Stefano (AR). It is a selection of 200 life stories chosen from over one thousand in the collection, from which a few pages – chosen from the dozens, sometimes hundreds pages available – have been extrapolated and digitised. In this way, each page has been turned into a story, published in the website https://www.idiariraccontano.org/. The criteria followed in choosing the testimonies to be published concern the historical interest of the individual human trajectories recounted in the documents. Besides the interest in presenting different viewpoints on major historical events, this project is designed to recount the experience common to all emigration stories, which are the main core of the documentary selection together with accounts of travel or temporary work abroad. This project is a rich source of reference for this type of travellers, who can also make use of it before embarking on their journey to Italy.
The reason why the “Turismo delle Radici” is an idea on which to focus
- It is able to involve our communities abroad and the Com. It. Es. (Committees of Italian abroad) in the identification of the best strategies to create an appropriate tourist offer.
- It can strengthen the network of Italian emigration museums, favouring the systematisation of activities dedicated to the in-depth study of local history, language and Italian culture.
- It encourages the digitisation of the Italian registry office archives, thus increasing the demand for genealogical and family history documents.
- It creates standard itineraries with which personalised experiences can be combined (e.g. tastings of typical products or opportunities to carry out handicraft activities or take part in local festivals and fairs), which could in the future be included in an APP, along the lines of the “Guide to Italian roots”, enabling this type of travellers to study and document their itineraries even before reaching their destinations;
- It promotes working holiday experiences in Italy for our compatriots abroad: the “Turismo delle Radici” allows to start again from authentic experiences in contact with the territory, to be proposed to young people of Italian origin, which support craftsmanship and production chains of which we have globally rediscovered the importance, especially due to the current social and health crisis.