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Stop overtourism movement: Less is more

Stop overtourism movement: Less is more

The travel and tourism sector directly accounted for 3% of total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017, translating to $2.4 trillion, a figure that could reach $3.5 trillion by 2027. This is good news for travel professionals, but for tourists, residents and community leaders of favorite hot spots, more is not always better. Record-breaking tourist flows continue to place Italy’s cultural and artistic patrimony at risk and test the patience of residents in popular Italian destinations. Two Chicago women specializing in the Italian tourism sector know their STOP Overtourism Movement is the answer.

Chicago’s Lesley Pritkin and Rosanne Cofoid, owners of two “Italy-only” travel companies say tourists are curious and will try new places – if they know about them. For this reason, they want to provide travelers with alternatives to the traditional hot-spot cities like Rome, Florence and Venice. For first-timers whose must-see list includes the hot-spots – they have also created alternative “crowdless” ways to see them. They are calling upon tourism professionals and travel writers to join their movement by highlighting lesser-known places that are equally as rich culturally and aesthetically as the better-known locations.

Pritikin, owner of Divertimento Group (DG), an Illinois destination marketing-social impact company, visited residents in Italian towns and islands that were suffering from a lack of tourism – many only minutes away from cities asking tourists to stay home. She encouraged them to create stimulating alternative itineraries such as visits to: Ernest Hemingway’s favorite “locanda” on a remote island in the Venice lagoon with dinner at an islander’s grandfather’s home, now an upscale restaurant, or a gourmet lunch prepared by a local chef in Matera’s secret caves on a hilltop – far from the 2019 European Cultural Capital’s more famous “Sassi. And for “must see Rome enthusiasts,” a hidden volcanic lake in fairy-tale town near Rome where Emperor Caligula raced his ships.

Cofoid explains her motivation for joining Divertimento Group’s STOP Overtourism Movement, “it is a way to give back to the country that has been the focus of my businesses and my life for many years – and I hope other U.S. travel professionals will join me”. She invites them to contact her for participation in DG’s February kick-off campaign “Get There First” – an initiative for travel professionals and travel writers/bloggers who want to see Matera, the 2019 European Cultural Capital the “DG-way” – off-season, off-the-beaten-track, and long before the crowds flow in.

Divertimento Group sees cultural events in partnership with Italian companies, Italian tourism board and Italian cultural institutions as their primary B2B marketing channel – another industry first. On November 5, 2018, Divertimento Group, along with the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago (500 N. Michigan Ave.), will host Italy Off-the-Beaten-Track: Murano & Matera – Case Studies for a New Tourism Model. This event will feature stories from Murano and Matera residents– often left out of tourism scenarios. Stories from non-residents inspired by these two unique locations will also be featured. Murano-glass wearable sculptures and other creations from various artists will be on display at the event. The general public will be invited in the morning and the afternoon will be dedicated to travel professionals. The event will conclude with a cocktail reception for those working in the tourism sector.

This November 5 event will be the first in the “Giving Local Residents a Voice in Promoting THEIR territory” series of events that will feature different Italian destinations throughout 2019. Italian sponsors from all regions are offering support of DG’s STOP Overtourism movement and will participate in DG cultural events: Lamborghini and Pomario have already signed up for the November initiative.