MANFREDONIA - Discover the area with an "urban walking" and then reflect on tourism experiences that can be examples to consolidate Gargano’s brand. That, in a nutshell, was the second day of "States-General of Active Tourism” - How to transform resources into a tourism product: Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Puglia, Tuscany and Trentino Alto Adige confronting", an event organized by GAL (Local Action Group) DaunOfantino from Manfredonia (FG) at the conference rooms of RegioHotel Manfredi.
In the morning there was a walk to discover some artistic and architectural treasures of Manfredonia. Often associated just with a seaside type of tourism, this small town of Gargano holds a series of 'gems' as from next year will return to shine like never before.
For example the church of St. Chiara and its mysteries, the Cathedral of St. Lorenzo Maiorano and, above all, the Castle that by the beginning of 2016 will finally show itself in all its glory and tell a story made of centuries and extremely varied presences on the territory: Swabians, Angevins, Normans, Aragonese, Turks, Bourbons ... As the Cultural Heritage official Dr. Ginevra D'Onofrio explained us, these people have in fact succeeded in control of the territory, leaving important cultural and architectural traces of their passage, the castle is one of the greatest proof.
In addition to churches, squares, monuments, in Manfredonia there are human treasures equally important, such as the master Matteo Trotta’s art of making papier mache masks and floats - we met him in his shop and he told us some of the secrets of this precious ability - or, for example, the art of governing a lighthouse, the lighthouse of Manfredonia’s port that Ottaviano Greco has run for years and which, upon request, can be visited while enjoying a breathtaking view of the city.
And yet the treasures of local gastronomy, among which there are the dairy products derived from buffalo milk. In fact we had the opportunity to visit the Dairy of Pines in Siponto, where they breed 400 cattles, and with the fresh milk, in 24 hours are produced and sold in the area delicious cheeses among which, of course, there is the famous mozzarella.
In the afternoon five contributions to the discussion were given from five experts of the tourism sector.
The first intervention was that of Dr. Virna Pierobon, expert in communication and marketing for Trentino/Val di Fassa, on the theme "Destination Tourism and social media: do not fall into the trap".
"It’s important - said the journalist - first of all that the communication for a given tourist subject is tailored: it must fit its targets, its economic possibilities, its objectives. Professionalism is what makes the difference in a time when everyone with a tablet or a Smartphone can communicate quickly. Communicators must adapt quickly, every day, to the changes which occur in the 2.0 world in which we are online and where we are the network, where emails are disappearing, where Facebook is beating Google, where the 'reputation' of each professional is traceable and measurable on the web and so it must be managed in the best way".
"Communicating in the world of tourism - ended Pierobon - today means knowing how to use and manage the "virtual marketing", the word of mouth going on social networks. This means work with the social tourist that, at the same time, is user and promoter of the destination. In a so complex and varied sector you cannot make any progress alone, then we have to use the “great ones” that today are Google, Facebook and YouTube, while Twitter is a bit declining.
In short, in this world “we are” what we are able to communicate and so we must do it in the best way, writing with care and using different languages in relation to the means used".
"Revenue and destination" was the issue addressed by Dr. Franco Laico, expert Hotel Revenue Management: "Today we are facing the “tourist-traveler”, often super informed about the destination thanks to the use of the web. To attract this new 'species' the hoteliers, and anyone offering tourist services, must completely change their old habits.
Prices for example: you cannot pay high prices for rooms in months like February, same thing, for example, for museums or transport prices. We need to entice people to come in the off season with a fair pricing policy and perhaps raise the prices of the very high season that more or less it’s often sold out. It’s the price that affects the demand: in Italy during the off season we are too expensive".
"Another important element - continued Laico - is that online reservations have eclipsed those off-line. And so we must be structured in the right way, with dynamic web sites and lean on the most important OTA without which we would not be easy to find on the Internet. Enough with the concept "less is more": we should always fill the rooms with many people, even if the price is low. Maybe those people will not come back but they will tell, on social networks with photos and movies, to friends and relatives about their experience".
"Let’s communicate the event" is the theme treated by Dr. Andrea Mazzi, Head of Press Office of the Carnival of Viareggio Foundation: "First of all we have ensured that Viareggio always reminds, every day, that it is the Carnival city. We try to make sure that our Carnival is a media event, popular, for example through the use of satire or social issues in our floats. In addition, we involve actors and celebrities with awards, so the agencies always reintroduce news about our event".
"Carnival is not a game - concluded Mazzi - but a really important event for our economy: a show that costs 5 million euro but that creates a profit up to 20 million euro. To do this we must always reinvent ourselves: for example, this year, we won’t start, as we should, the Carnival in January, a month dead from the tourism point of view, but instead we will try to experiment parades in February and early March Sundays, then during Lent".
Dr. Mauro Conficoni, "Coop Atlantide" Destination Manager and CEO of GAL "Delta 2000 Romagna" has instead placed emphasis on "Ecotourism and economy: that is attainable!":
"The cooperative Atlantide was founded in 1990 and today has 100 employees and a turnover of around 10 million euro, 82% of the workforce is female and 92% of the employees are graduated. As I said yesterday, having a beautiful sea, a nice place, it does not mean anything if you do not have ideas, projects... A place with an insignificant sea, like the Adriatic coast, attracts millions of visitors every year.
We were born in the eco-tourism field, creating the role of the environmental tourist guide, and the school tourism and our structure can be cloned as it happened with success in Puglia.
Small is beautiful? No, not at all, you have to be 'big' and have broad shoulders to withstand difficult times. From our experience we understood that public grant is important but it must be given for a real project and should not cover everything but a part".
The closure has been entrusted to the words of Dr. Robert Seppi, an expert in tourism planning: "How to realize all the advices that experts have bestowed today in our everyday life? Often we don’t, maybe we think it is too difficult. But there are some things we can easily do, at no cost. I’m talking about welcoming tourists, who must find what they expects and have a high level of satisfaction.
These data are not easy to be measured, but they start from the simple care of the territory, from a warm "hello" to those who enter in our business. Sometimes just being honest, being what we are, tourists seeks the uniqueness of the territory that they visits, and sometimes just be yourself is an important step forward..."