How Italy Is Promoting Tourism In The Post-Covid Era

Italy and tourism advertising, between comparative campaigns and influencers.

Promoting Tourism in Italy Florence
Photo: Matyas Prochy, Unsplash.

Italy and tourism advertising, between comparative campaigns and influencers.

The global pandemic is having a huge impact on the international economy and according to the Institute of International Finance this crisis could be considered the third but greatest financial and social nightmare of the current century, after 9/11 and the global financial crisis of 2008.

Even the tourism industry, one of the most profitable, has been heavily hit by the crisis and countries are developing recovery measures, rethinking the sector, and promoting their own nation.

Italy’s approach to promoting tourism

Italy, from north to south, has always been one of the most chosen destinations in the world offering different UNESCO World Heritage sites, culinary tourism and both mountain and sea landscapes. A study, led by the Italian National Agency for Tourism, highlights that in 2019 our Bel Paese hosted more than 420 million tourists which brings in €40 billion to the national economy, comparing the travel industry to a gold mine.

This year, however, due to the Covid-19 situation, the cancellations have been countless, even if Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte remarked that Italy is a safe country for tourism.

In spite of the difficult situation, the travel industry is trying to adapt to the new reality employing modern tools of promoting tourism. This is, for example, the case of a videoclip, “Italy, beauty is the only virus,” that has gone viral which shows both the feelings that an experience in Italy can provoke to travelers of any nationality — real Instagram users’ clips have been collected — and it shows famous and meaningful national sites, such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Colosseum and many other glimpses of Italian cities.

Furthermore, the municipality of Cefalù, in Sicily, decided to record a poetic video, sharing it through the Facebook page ‘Visit Cefalù’, choosing to employ a tool that during the lockdown provided community and emotional support. For months people have been used to hearing stories through images — the ones of doctors and nurses working overtime, the aerial shots of empty cities — which have been the only contact with the external world. Therefore, this was the selected choice in the ad to stimulate a sense of unity within the audience, an infinite strength and a new hope for the future — fully embodied by the spot’s motto, “It’s time for a new dawn.”


While there are popular approaches to advertising, there are also controversial ones. For example, there is the not-so-fair promotional ad from Calabria, which uses the pandemic as a discriminatory tool, trying to promote tourism specifically in southern Italy. As a matter of fact, in the opinion of some Calabrian municipalities, both foreigners and Italians themselves, should not choose northern Italy for their holidays as those regions are more affected by pollution and by weaknesses in the healthcare system as they are still dealing with many cases. Viewers should instead prefer Calabria in the south that during this pandemic has always rigorously respected social distancing measures and, in addition, has always been preserving the environment.

The technique used is known as a comparative advertising campaign, in which a service, or in this case a place, is presented as superior to the competitors.

Even if after the various complaints the part of the video has been officially removed, for weeks both the news and the Italian region Calabria have been one of the most searched for items on Google and one of the most discussed topics on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

How the media got involved

Finally, it is impossible not to mention social media influencers, such as Chiara Ferragni, who can create trends and reach a diverse target audience from all over the world. Her media power has been recently employed by the owner of a hotel in Cinque Terre, a coastal area in Liguria, who hosted her and her husband, the Italian singer Fedez, for a sponsored weekend in exchange for positive pictures, tags, and reviews on her social media accounts. As a result, in only two days the followers of the hotel’s webpage went from 3,000 to 30,000 and there has been a huge increase in the reservation requests as a consequence.

Moreover, the new Chiara Ferragni’s campaign at Uffizi in Florence, dated only a few days back, has also been at the center of a debate: as a matter of fact she recently posed for a photo shooting for Vogue Hong Kong but not everyone appreciated her private night visit in the Galleries, accompanied by the museum director Eike Schmidt, and a photo taken in front of Botticelli’s ‘Spring’ that has also been shared on the official Instagram account of the Uffizi and in which Chiara Ferragni has been defined as a “contemporary divinity.”

She is not new to these kind of controversies like when she posted the photos of the Ferragnez visit to the Sistine Chapel, the critics were not long to follow. But, after both the events, the two museums have registered a positive trend in visitors numbers.

Last but not least, among the techniques of promoting tourism, are comprehending all the healthcare strategies that Italy is implementing to guarantee the health of each traveler who wishes to visit our country during the summer and even after. For example, the social distancing — at least 1 meter between people — the use of face masks in public places, the presence of hand sanitizers in every private business and the measurement of body temperature.

Looking to the future

Despite Covid-19, Italy remains the pearl of the Mediterranean, the home of art and culture, of good food and wine; a country of ancient traditions where today, more than ever, the population is even more friendly and welcoming.

Let’s talk about Italy, for better or worse; but let’s talk. After all, with this article we’ve already started a conversation about the beauty of Italy.

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