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The evolution of Italian food and wine tourism between authentic experiences and destinations off the beaten track

Bologna, 27 June 2024 - International tourism is experiencing a new era, focused on authentic experiences and lesser-known destinations, with Italy as the undisputed star thanks to its rich food and wine heritage. Leading Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) report a significant increase in demand for culinary experiences, estimating that the gastronomic tourism market could reach $2 trillion by 2028. This trend is driven by the search for authenticity and the desire to discover local traditions, with 80 per cent of travellers considering trying the local cuisine one of the most anticipated aspects of travel. Viator, a leading international travel experience marketplace with over 300,000 offers, reports a six-fold increase in bookings for cooking classes globally compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. In addition, bookings for food and wine tours grew more than four times over the same period.

The case of Cesarine, Italy's oldest and largest network of amateur cooks and chefs, offering authentic and traditional culinary experiences in their own homes, fits into this context. In the first quarter of 2024, Cesarine's food experiences marked a 20% increase, with Bologna for the first time at the top of the list of travellers' choices, up 25% compared to 2023. Sicily also showed a significant increase, with +60% more bookings in Palermo and +130% in Messina. The Cinque Terre have doubled their presences compared to the same period in 2023. According to Cesarine's forecast based on Google Trends, searches for cooking classes are set to rise by a further 14% in both 2024 and 2025. This data highlights how food-related experiences in Italy are helping to redefine the idea of travel, reflecting the global trend of increasing interest in this area.

In 2023, the experiences offered by Cesarine welcomed almost 50,000 international guests: mainly North American travellers, eager to live authentic experiences, but also Italian corporate guests for events and team buildings, as well as private domestic tourism often attracted by small villages and exclusive experiences. The experiences proposed by Cesarine are not only limited to cuisine, but offer a complete immersion in Italian culture, through the discovery of stories and anecdotes linked to local traditions. Cesarine not only responds to this growing demand, but does so by creating a network of micro-entrepreneurs operating in areas less travelled by the main tourist flows, thus contributing to local economic development. Currently, 10% of the community is made up of men, a significant figure that demonstrates the inclusiveness and diversity of the network.

Cesarine.com is Italy's first online platform for food experiences with a community of 1,500 amateur cooks and chefs who in 2023 opened the doors of their homes and territories to more than 48,000 guests, mostly international (+65% compared to 2022). Founded in 2004 in Bologna as the Association for the Protection and Enhancement of Italy's Typical Culinary Gastronomic Heritage, in 2014 the community became a platform under the leadership of tech entrepreneur Davide Maggi - creator of some of Italy's first digital startups and executive director of the Digital Marketing & Communication Executive Program of the Bologna Business School. On its 20th birthday, Cesarine counts dozens of spontaneous applications every week.

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