The metropolitan city of Bologna, capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is active in the sectors of economy, tourism, and culture. It is home to the oldest university in the world, and it highlights the contribution of Industrial Tourism (IT), a tourist source at the base of which is Centergross, the “Enclave” of Pronto Moda (ready to wear fashion).
eTurboNews Italy correspondent, Mario Masciullo, sat down with Riccardo Collina, Internationalization Manager, Ambassador, and academic of Italian cuisine from Bologna to the world, to discuss the topic of Industrial Tourism.
eTN: Mr. Collina, what role does Centergross play in promoting IT to Bologna?
Riccardo Collina: Since 2017, it has been facing an internationalization process based on a medium to long-term strategic marketing objective. Centergross sells fashion, the lifestyle of the Bologna area, with motor, food, wellness, the 5 pillars of our economy, an outgoing path to create incoming.
With the position of Ambassador of Bologna to the world, I made the commitment to bring Centergross’ product to the world so that the world could come to Bologna, then promote the stay to get to know the city
eTN: In which countries does it promote Pronto Moda?
Collina: The priority target countries are those of Northern Europe (in particular French and German-speaking countries), North America (Canada and the United States), Russia, East Asia (China, Japan, and South Korea), and the Middle East.
eTN: Is there a strategy to promote tourism?
Collina: Yes, and we classify it – Industrial Tourism – originated by buyers.
eTN: How was this marketing action planned?
Collina: The strategic plan was supported by the Councilor for Tourism and Culture, Matteo Lepore, now Mayor of Bologna. I also owe to him my honorary position as Ambassador of Bologna to the world for life.
The collaborates in the marketing department are: Giorgia Boldrini, General Director for Culture; Mattia Santori, Councilor delegated for Tourism of the Municipality of Bologna, with the support of Bologna metropolitan city; Giorgia Trombetti, responsible for the economic development of the territory, and the Councilor Vincenzo Colla [who] sits at the fashion organization table and [is] Regional Councilor for the economic development of green and the protection of workers.
eTN: Is there an operating sector that coordinates the management of your activities?
Collina: Yes, the working table of the sector brings together the institutions at the municipal, provincial, regional, and national level; in short: the fashion table that leads to the establishment of the Emilia Romagna Fashion Valley which, combined with the motor, food, wellness, packaging machinery, and big Data Valley, give economic value to this territory.
We also have the provincial, regional, and national organizational contribution, the Foreign Ministry supports us both with its right-wing commercial operative arm ICE (Istituto Commercio Estero), the Italian Trade Agency, the Italian embassies abroad, as well as the institutional political and commercial operational authorities in order to better carry out our work abroad.
eTN: Have you already achieved milestones in IT, and what are the plans for the future?
Collina: The flows of IT was growing up to the eve of the pandemic. After that, the promotion was temporarily entrusted to our PR activities aimed at the press, television, and social media to help promote the destination. The goal for the future is expansionism.
eTN: How long do your tourists stay in Bologna, and do they plan to visit the region?
Collina: After working 2-3 days within our exhibition/fashion shopping facilities, our industrial tourist allows himself an average 3-night vacation. Their preferences are varied from visiting the historic center, shopping, museums, the automotive industries: Maserati, Lamborghini, Ducati, and respective museums. The interest is also directed towards the gastronomy and wine sectors – the vast chain of products of the region called the Food Valley. A territory of great unique gastronomic excellences.
eTN: What about sun and sea tourism?
Collina: This occurs when we organize the in-season collections during the summer. We cater to the B2B clients even though we do not belong only to that category, because by producing ready-to-wear fashion, our events become viral and also shared by the final consumer. So we become a B2B de facto B2C which is also a direct consumer.
The municipal administration supports our initiatives, taking into account that tourism deriving from Centergross buyers assume the functions of promoter of the territory through their word of mouth.
eTN: Who organizes and manages the itineraries for your tourists?
Collina: We manage small groups with the support of Bologna Welcome – the tourist office of the metropolitan city of Bologna. In the case of larger groups, we entrust them to the APT of Rimini – the tourist office of the Emilia Romagna region.
eTN: You, therefore, play a specific fundamental role!
Collina: I confirm this to be a unique case history in Italy where a professional figure conducts a territorial marketing program with an ambitious medium to long-term objective which is the front end of the business system of the food and fashion territory, at the same time, as well as being a brand ambassador of excellence is also the ambassador of a city of 400,000 inhabitants – technically, an ambassador in all respects.
The Fashion Valley: President Piero Scandellari
Centergross is the most important European economic center dedicated to Pronto Moda – Made in Italy. Its location is in a strategic position a few kilometers from Bologna, in the heart of a large area known internationally as the Fashion Valley, as well as the Packaging Valley, Motor Valley, Food Valley, and Italian Data Valley.
Over the years, the center has increasingly taken on the functions of a real Smart Center, providing companies with services, know-how, networking opportunities, and its network of commercial and institutional relations, thus creating value at the national and international levels.
The Mission of President Scandellari
Centergross’ mission is articulated on several complementary levels that meet the needs of its various interlocutors, from product buyers to companies interested in investing in the district, to the many institutions and stakeholders involved in a continuous dialogue aimed at the economic and social promotion of this reality.
The capacity for synergy and collaboration is one of the foundations of the system that enhances the enormous human capital (6,000 plus 30,000 of related activities) of which it is composed, with the ultimate goal of pursuing constant growth for the benefit of each company.
A winning strategy over time has allowed the district and its companies to successfully overcome the moments of crisis and difficulties that have hit the sector. So it is working to make it a reality in Centergross Sinergy, a system pact that acts as a multiplier of opportunities and a guarantee for stakeholders and institutions
The goal is to bring back to Bologna the foreign buyers who flocked to the company before the pandemic, at the same time bringing its own companies to foreign countries with very high potential.
“We are ready,” underlined Scandellari, “and as soon as the pandemic conditions allow it, we will aim for ever greater expansion towards new markets to strengthen Italian Pronto Moda quality with passion and enthusiasm.”