Web promotion: Italy still has a lot to learn

The Italian Institute for Rural Development and Farming (ISVRA), which analyzed the attendance and content of official Internet sites of tourist promotion of the different parts of Italy, arrived to a conclusion that was not so reassuring for Italy’s tourism. Few web sites were able to properly value, especially abroad, the great attractive potential of their respective territories.

Using estimates provided by alexa.com, the most visited sites were those of the autonomous provinces of Bolzano (suedtirol.info) and Trento (visittrentino.it), with about 6.500-7 thousand estimated daily unique visitors, more or less the hanging issues of Tuscany. Worries remain, however, on the number of clicks that the regional sites receive: fewer than 1,000 visitors per day.

Of the 20 regional sites examined – the site of Campania is no longer online, and the dominion incampania.com is overdue – 11 showed a bounce rate (visits to a single page followed by leaving the site) above 50%. The site of Molise (moliseturismo.eu) reaches 80% followed in this negative ranking from those of Tuscany with 70.8%, Emilia Romagna (emiliaromagnaturismo.it) with 65.7%, Piedmont (piemonteitalia.eu) with 60.6%.

As for the presence of foreign visitors, only in 5 cases was the percentage of the total number of visitors from abroad access over 30%: Alto Adige, for example, stood at 53.3%, Toscana to 37.6%, Liguria (turismoinliguria.it) to 33.3%, Umbria (umbriatourism.it) to 33.1%, Trentino to 32.3%. Less than 10%, however, the foreign visits by Emilia Romagna (5.3%) and Lombardia (in-lombardia.it, 3.2%); worse still goes to Abruzzo (conoscere.abruzzoturismo.it) and Calabria (turiscalabria.it), whose shares of foreign visitors comes to zero.

Compounding the picture comes the fact that the national official tourist website (italia.it), although it provides links to regional sites, is able to provide to them a negligible number of visits. Also translations of Italia.it (English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese), in the majority of cases (16 of 20) do not correspond to translations of regional sites making it difficult to consultation of employees from foreign visitors from Italia.it.

There are also numerous malfunctions reported by the analysis of ISVRA. Starting with what happens for Campania, which has no longer online, the official tourism site. For its part, the site of Calabriaannuncia lists of hotels and restaurants are not published, and for reading in English, French and German, the site of Abruzzo is sent to pages of commercial meaningless advertisements. As for the site of Sardinia, the events in 2016 appear only in the Italian section and translated sections are stuck to the season 2015. Icing on the cake: rarely regional sites, especially in the translation portions for foreigners, bring out a synthetic map, showing only the position of the region in the Italian territory.

Even worse is when this is compared with France. Here, many regions for each foreign language do adopt diversified and targeted domains that improve the indexing of their sites on search engines, even if, by comparing the French regional sites similar to the Itaian one (single domain and linguistic (underdifferentiation), can be seen that in general the visibility is similar to the Italian. Quite different is the case of Paris that has a tourist site (parisinfo.com) much more visited than that of Rome (turismoroma.it) with 25,000 daily unique visitors against 5,700 of the Italian capital.

“The analysis of the regional official sites to promote tourism, reads in the conclusions of the report,which showed that the majority of these sites have little use in contributing to the increase in tourist flows, both for the small number of visitors (mostly foreigners), due to the confused or deficient setting of the contents (especially in regards to the foreign language sections). Essentially, despite an overall picture full of information, those who rarely see these sites is “accompanied” to an attractive discovery of the territory and regional resources, prevailing the amount of content on the “emotional message as “essential to favorably orient sightseeing choices. The attendance comparison between tourist websites of Paris and Rome, sees the first, compared to the second, receiving more visits to more than 4 times (25,000 against 5,700), mainly from abroad (57.6% versus 51%) and with a lower bounce rate (52.6% vs. 60.3%).”

In short, there is much work yet to be done. Also because, as the ISVRA report highlights, “the detected deficiencies cannot certainly be traced to the category “innovation delay,” since the website has long been a tool of communication that responds to known and consolidated principles; it is, rather, the lack of competence, application, and/or deficiency of manpower involved in the care of the site that, even if poorly managed, requires financial investment and human resources far from negligible.