Outdoor tourism in a welcoming province
Outdoor tourism is extremely important in the province of Venice, above all in the coastal towns. With the already existing traditional camping sites and tourist resorts, a "new" form of tourism is available in the sector of farm holidays tourism: country camping, which concerns the agricultural environment and natural aspects.
Cavallino Treporti is the leading resort within the province, owing to its outdoor structures linked to beach holidays and the sun-sea modality. For this village, but not only this one, the possibility to start a new initiative, such as country camping, should be evaluated. This is a further opportunity for all villages that maintain an important agricultural activity (even if they are mainly focused on the tourist sector).
The Interreg IIIA Italy-Slovenia Costaveslocav project (that aims at increasing the value of the Venetian and Slovenian coasts with initiatives, exhibitions and transfrontier events), in which this research is an essential part, intends to verify the possibility to export the Venetian experiences into the Slovenian context where outdoors activities and rural tourism can be important for using the potentialities of the land better without resorting to important investments.
A brief presentation of the data relevant to tourism in the different territories helps to understand what happens at the local level. The investigation of the characteristics, norms and procedures to start a country camping site raises the priorities of intervention relevant to the hospitality and the promotion of this specific modality of accommodation and, in general, of the outdoor, or open air, sector.
Venice is at the first places among the Italian provinces for the following:
Country camping: a new modality of holidays
In this contest, another typology of camping less connected to seaside holidays acquires more importance, because it is more focused to living the experience of rural activities and agricultural production (such as the production of food and the raising of animals).
This is country camping that joins together the characteristics of rural tourism and open air accommodation, typical of camping. The accommodation in a protected and comfortable place that also offers entertainment, gives hospitality in a way that is different from the most common accommodation. In this sector of the tourism, the concept of "simple" holidays must be replaced with "qualified" holidays with a specific image that could be enriched by a slogan such as: nature, family relationship, free space for children, visits and excursions to historical and natural sites of the inland as well as itineraries to discover typical food and wine.
Rural tourism, which is particularly widespread in France, has favoured the multi-functionality of companies that practise a few activities alongside their typical food production. The hospitality creates an integrative income that contributes to sustain areas that would be marginal from an economical point of view. Thus their presence is important in the territory and that is why their tourist role is not secondary.
The Open air phenomenon: the national context
Contact with nature, the possibility to start sport activities, entertainment and cultural events as well as the beauty of the places where camping sites and tourist villages are located make "open air" holidays the second way to give hospitality, after hotels, in Italy.
The economic dimension and the structural data relevant to this particular sector are summarized as follows. In our country in 2004, the 2,370 companies that work in the sector of camping sites and tourist resorts were equipped with a total of 1.3 million of beds; they gave hospitality to about 8 million vacationers and managed 65 millions people so that they produced an induced of about 2.5 billion Euros. They employed 43,000 to do different tasks. This sector is one of the main structural elements connected to tourist hospitality. Despite the importance of the sector, the operators have had to reflect and replace the offering even because of the decrease of foreign demand (-3% in the national average, even -5% on the Adriatic coast) in these latest years.
The partially negative trend of the flow of tourists staying in open air structures corresponds to a combined result that has interested the entire country and a large part of its internal areas, except for a few exceptions. This trend was also confirmed in 2005.
The total flow of tourists in Italy in 2004 was about 83 million arrivals and 337 million presences. It has decreased 2% from 2001, the year of maximum peak of the demand, till today. The average stay of each tourist was 4 days. 66.5% were present in hotels and the remaining 33.5% (1% more than the previous year) in other facilities. Among those who chose other facilities, 55% (with a decrease of 0.4% in comparison with 2003) chose an accommodation in open air facilities (such as camping sites and tourist villages). So, it can be deducted that the "guests" of this specific sector are 18.5% of the total presences in Italy, even if, for a few Italian villages, the quotas are higher and sometimes exclusive.
The offering has faithfully followed the demand trend: the number of facilities, as well as beds, has increased constantly (respectively 6.5% and 1%) so that it covers about 32% of the global offering and 61% of the extra-hotels offering.
Coming back to the open air offering, we notice that the phenomenon in Italy was especially born in the seaside areas (presently, the facilities located in sea villages are more than 70% of the total), but it also develops in different directions, involving destinations such as lakes and mountains (20% of the total) and even the cities of art. The sector is gradually transforming its facilities and modifying its "production" and is more and more oriented to poly-functionality and diversification with particular attention to comfort and entertainment (equipped parking, commercial areas, entertainment services, sports and catering). In the facilities the scope is to incorporate the largest part of the "chain of value" and the relevant tourist expenses.
Considering the characteristics of the demand, and, in particular, the origin of the clientele, we see that the main segment, about 60% of arrivals comes from the domestic market, then the European market (more than 50% is represented by Germans) and Eastern-Europe (Russia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary) and, in the latest years, even non-European (USA, Canada, Japan and Australia). Italian demand is very high in July and August and the average stay is 4/6 days, while foreigners also choose low season periods and stay at least 8/10 days.
The forecast data show a sector that is in a changing phase, with the main foreign target, the German market, that is in considerable decrease (-10%) and that should be replaced by Eastern European tourists (+6%) and English tourists (low cost phenomenon). However, these new "guests" have particular requests in comparison with what the traditional structure of the open air has offered. In particular, the need arises to implement fixed facilities (bungalows and prefabricated buildings) that have the preference of almost 35% of the demand, in comparison with the traditional accommodation in tents or caravan, demanded only by the youngest people and in considerable decrease.
The model clientele of the camping sites is represented by a family of four with an average stay of 5 days for the Italians and 9 days for the foreigners; therefore, a high ratio price/quality must also be ensured because the average cost per person is almost 40 euros per day. Both a more and more exigent demand and the necessity to differentiate the product arise with concern to complementary services: not only sports activities and entertainment, but also cultural events linked to the territory where holidays take place.
The regional context
The open air sector is significantly present at the national level and, above all, in the Veneto region, which is the "richest" region in the respect of open air facilities. 184 firms and almost 216 thousand beds make 16% of the entire Italian offering of the sector.
It is quite complex to briefly set the open air phenomenon at the general and local levels. In order to describe the subject, we start from the Veneto Region norms that rule and define the phenomenon and its relevant facilities. The open air facilities must be in conformity with the Regional norms in force just as the other accommodation facilities must do. The other public bodies that control and decide at the territorial level are the Province, which is in charge of the issue of the classification decree, and the Administration, which is in charge of town planning decisions relevant to the destination of use of the area and the authorization to realize and start the facility.
The Regional law of 4th November 2002, no. 33 [The consolidated act of the Regional Laws concerning Tourism, Title II Discipline in the Matter of Tourist Operators, Item I Accommodation facilities, Section III Open air accommodation facilities, 28-29-30-31 Articles.] divides the open air accommodation into two categories:
The local context in 2004
The statistic information on the open air sector concerns the entire Province and then the specific coastal administration (such as Bibione, Caorle, Cavallino Treporti, Chioggia, Eraclea and Jesolo) that are strongly characterized by the open air offering that includes market-oriented initiatives focused on the quality of service, facility and area.
Little less than 60% of the regional open air offering is placed within the province of Venice, making up 9.4% at the national level. Cavallino Treporti includes more than the half (51.2%) of the provincial capacity. Therefore, at the national level, the small village represents a very high quota of 4.8% of the open air accommodation offering.
Now, considering the demand, it is interesting to highlight the absolute values, the trends and the weight that the market of camping sites and tourist villages have in comparison with Venetian tourism.
Between 2001 and 2004, the Province of Venice, in its totality, showed almost a stasis of its tourist flows that followed an almost constantly increasing trend in the previous years. A conflicting trend between arrivals and presences is clear: the former increased 1%, while the latter decreased -4.8%, making a clear clue of an uncertain phase. This gap was caused, above all, by the foreign demand, with a substantial stability of arrivals (-0.2%) and a considerable reduction (-5.7%) of the presences. The domestic demand is substantially different, the arrivals increased of 4%, but the presences decreased of -3.1%. On the other hand, the hotel sector respects the trend of the global datum (+0.1% of the arrivals and -3.5% of the presences); the non-hotel sector increases its number of arrivals (+2.8%), but decreases the number of presences (-5.7%).
Finally, focusing on the open air sector and considering the trends between 2001, the year of a peak in the tourist flow, and 2004, the drop was notable with a reduction of the presences of -8.2, in which the strong decrease of the foreign demand (-9.8%) contributed; that represents about 72% of the total open air open air presences.
Within the territory of the Venetian province, the open air accommodation is a considerable part of the tourist market, covering a quota equal to 18% of the total arrivals (the quota arrives at 58% if the only non-hotel sector is considered), 32% of the presences (55% of the non-hotel sector) and 35% of the total bed places (the quota arrives at 45% if the only non-hotel sector is considered). The average stay in the sector is 8 days.
The domestic demand is less than one third of the total (27%) and the international demand is the remaining 72%. The German market (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) represents 64% of that quota and 70% of the presences in a context where more than 92% of the foreign flow comes from 12 main nations. As a consequence, the main market for the open air market in the province of Venice is represented by Germans followed by Italians: these two groups cover 71% of the total arrivals and 77% of the presences; Holland and Denmark are represented with considerably lower quotas.
Within the provincial territory, a few villages represent more of the Venetian tourist realty linked to the open air than others: they are the coastal villages where this particular sector has been traditionally developed. As a confirmation of that, the above mentioned administrations represent 87% of the arrivals and 96% of open air presences of all the administrations in the province of Venice; Cavallino-Treporti is the first village concerning open air facilities with its quota of 52%; that is the highest in the considered area. This administration is strongly oriented to this kind of tourism with more than 90% of the beds in the territory. However, Cavallino Treporti (together with Jesolo) has suffered most of the general situation in the sector and, in these last few years, has seen a considerable decrease in its tourist flows, which, in the 2001-2004 period, decreased -9% in arrivals and -10% in presences. Due to the importance that the open air facilities have for the administration, it is evident that this drop affected the entire area datum.
Two distinctions must be made: the first is that, with the exceptions of Cavallino Treporti and Jesolo, the administrations increase at least the arrivals number (for example, Eraclea is over 9%); the second is that the sector has a slight but constant decrease at the general level. By analysing the demand relevant to the origin, we can see an increase of 9.6% in domestic arrivals (-3.9% of the presences), in comparison with a decrease in the foreign demand (-9/-10%).
However, that is not enough to completely understand the phenomenon; therefore another passage is needed. Among the main groups of foreign demand that characterize the area, there is a considerable deviation between the general increase of a few important reference markets, such as the Danish, Dutch, English and Swiss and a considerable decrease in the German demand (in the considered period, it was respectively -19% of the arrivals and -20% of the presences), that together, with the remaining German world demand (Austria and Switzerland) representing more than 50% of the entire open air market of the Cavallino Treporti.
A sequential comparison
Up to now, we have compared the trends of medium periods by the statistics relevant to 2001 and 2004, the final complete and available datum. In the first year, there was a peak in the tourist flows and, after an almost constant long period of increase, the comparison appears very significant. Now we consider the recent situation by comparing the sequential dataa relevant to 2003 to draw useful considerations on the permanence that is on the irregularity of what is happening.
The very low drop in demand (in 2004) in the Venetian territory, in comparison with 2003, was equal to -0.3% of presences: that is almost stable, even if there was a decrease of presences in the non-hotel sector (-2.2%) in countertendency with the increase of the hotel sector (+2.6% of presences). On the other hand, the foreign flow (+1.1% of presences) has partially balanced the "scales" in comparison with the drop in Italian demand (-2.8%). Considering only the non-hotel sector, and the open air sectorr, the data show a situation not homogenous with a drop in presences in the specific sector by -1.4%.
In light of these data, it is easier to understand the drop of the open air demand relevant to Cavallino Treporti than in the last year period (2003-2004) that was substantially stable in arrivals (+0.1%) and lost -1.1% of the presences: this drop was completely caused by the foreign demand, since the Italian presence diminished by only 24 units while the foreign presences fell by -1.3%. Despite this, it is appropriate to point out that the destination maintains the level of the previous year with a decrease of -0.1%.
Starting from these data, we have to reflect on the possible factors that have affected the open air sector in the last few years in the Cavallino Treporti territory.
At the national level, the open air sector of tourism is in a substantially stalemated condition with a decrease of presences by -0-4%. This situation also repeats itself more substantially at the local level, where the province of Venice loses -1.4% and Cavallino Treporti loses -1.1% of presences. The total drop is mainly due to the decrease of the demand flows coming from the Germanic area. This specific market represents 50% of the entire open air demand in this territory and, as a consequence, even small decreases in percentage values (about -4%) correspond to important drops in an absolute value. Therefore, the decreased appeal that this destination has on the German demand also involves a geographically larger area that covers the entire Northern Adriatic Italian coast that suffers from the competition of price and product from the Slovenian and Croatian coasts.
Therefore, the relaunching of Cavallino Treporti cannot start from a restyling of the open air product in light of the changes that the demand and the offering, meaning the market structure, have had in these last few years. A more careful vision of the territory and the policy applied to it, such as a better service, a significant sharing of the resources and projects, and a decisive tourist culture are the combination of factors that can affect the trend of flows and the perspectives of a resort.
According to this vision, the single operators' interventions, as well as the public bodies' interventions, that operate in the tourist sector must be organized.
The initiatives of the Tourist Sector in the Province of Venice
In the Veneto region, the Regional body is appointed to the promotion of tourism towards the outdoors, while the Regional Law delegates to the Provincial bodies the task to inform tourists of the indoors. Since the Provincial bodies operate the internal territorial marketing, they should make the market easier and make the territory usable by the visitor. Therefore, the tourism sector of the Province of Venice coordinates the tourist policies of its territory by collaborating mainly with the category associations to create new strategies and organize training courses to improve the technical and operational knowledge of the entrepreneurs. Moreover, it uses a series of instruments of operational implementation of its sector policies. At the institutional level, there are mainly two instruments of strategic importance for the entrepreneurship and the offering:
Both instruments aim at improving the effectiveness of the Venetian tourist market and those who are part of it. The Province places its resources at the disposal of those who are susceptible to the territory where they work and try to make a wide destination useable that offers a series of attractions which are often invisible to the mass-market, but are potentially interesting for specific niches.
The Sector also started a large scale initiative by another instrument: the Map of the Provincial Tourist territory. It is a map of the provincial territory where the tourist sites and the facilities are indicated and connected by a system of mono-thematic itineraries properly created to meet the interests and preferences of a specific segment of the demand. The Map will be accompanied by a tourist's guide and made for other appealing subjects, such as boating and food and wine. The copies will be distributed free of charge to the operators within the promotional policy of the Regional body (in agreement with the Provincial body) with the scope to make them useable by the real operation addressee: that is the tourist.
The Provincial body, but even the operators, intends to stake on the food and wine sector, connected to the accommodations of farm holidays and the use of typical and organic products. In this field, the final scope has to be reaching the difficult balancing between company profits and quality of the supplied product that is essential to meet the needs and motivations of the demand. Since it is an offer of niche, the sector has intrinsically a dimensional limit beyond it to which the quality of the services and products tend to deteriorate. This limit must not be bypassed in order to avoid the danger of causing a series of consequences that the deception of consumers' expectations during a holiday may determine on their behaviour of both future purchases and on their "report" of their holiday once back home again.
The Provincial body has other indispensable survey factors to safeguard its main wealth, being the territory, and to promote efficient marketing. Among these factors, there are the complete data relevant to the offering that come from the survey performed in the facilities, the price declarations by farm holidays operators and other wide information from the administrative sector. These factors should not be considered as controlling instruments, but useful contributions to create a collaboration between two operators (the Public body and the private operators) that work in the same context, even if they have different aims, since their performances enter the same productive sector.
Another interesting instrument of internal promotion in the territory, scheduled by the Provincial body, is represented by educational courses applied to the territory, according to the principle of discovery and knowledge of the resources in a specific destination. Usually, the tourist arrives at the holiday place, having a limited knowledge of its attractiveness, and he acquires a large part of the lacking information at the place. That is why creating contact personnel (IAT personnel and receptionist) that supplies information and makes the tourist know all of the territory potentialities would be a successful competition factor and a really determining opportunity for the offering.
To present the territory with its resources that are networked and structured at the product level and, above all, that are communicated, is a clear competitive plus for the offering and an additional level for the tourist experience of the final user.
The Provincial body also manages the roads that are congested with a large tourist flow to specific destinations. They try to "discourage" the use of the tourist private means and promote the use of means/alternative roads, such as bikes and horse tracks, paths, navigable rivers (by boat or canoe), that are positive means with high tourist values.
The policy adopted by the Tourism Sector is oriented to program specific instruments, to adapt them to the market trends, to join them together with the largest number of operators and optimize them, according to the market dynamics. The direct consequence, which comes from a course that is structured in that way, is the transformation of a theoretically correct project because it is made of actions and instruments that are operationally feasible.
Country camping: structure and procedures - a new opportunity for the territory
Among the useful initiatives to recover the competitiveness of the open air tourist sector along the Venetian coast and, in particular, at Cavallino Treporti, is the promotion and consolidation of the presence of farm holidays and, in particular, country camping sites. It is a structure able to supply a new segment of the demand that is more interested in natural aspects linked to the agricultural experience than that of the sun-sea modality. That is why we focus on the issues relevant to starting and managing a facility of this type, as well as to the farm holidays sector in general.
The starting point of the course is established by the norms that regulate the sector. The accommodation facilities that the farmer entrepreneur can use are essentially both those that belong to the non-hotels sector: the farm holidays and the country camping site. They are both ruled by the regional law on the matter of agriculture and farms holidays.
Country camping can not be defined as only a farm, where the accommodation facilities are in the open air. In fact, it is not enough to say that the main difference between a farm holiday and a country camping site is the type of accommodation. A series of norms rules the activities of farm holidays and they establish the parameters to offering accommodation (indoors or outdoors) according to logistic, hygienic- sanitary, operational and institutional needs.
Therefore, it is necessary to give an initial definition to the farm holiday activity, using what the specific norms adopted by the Veneto Region establishes in the Regional Law on 18th April 1997, no. 9, New Discipline for running Farm Holidays activities. It establishes that the farms must be managed only by farmers that use their own farm in a linked and complementary relation to the activity of cultivating fields, woods and cattle breeding that still must remain their main activities. Among these activities, there are the following:
The tourism must remain a complementary aspect for the farmers, whose main activity must be agricultural work. It means that the time they devote to agricultural activities must be larger than the time devoted to the tourist activity.
This complementary ratio is measured by the Tourist farm plan foreseen by the Article 3 of the above mentioned Regional law on 18th April 1997, no. 9, that establishes that, for the evaluation of the connection and complementary ratio, those who want to enter the list of the farm holidays operators must present the Farm holidays Plan to the President of the Provincial Farm holidays Commission, specifying the number of activity days, the number of beds, and the number of people that can stay in open spaces.
Moreover, Article 4 of the Law establishes that, to enter the list of the farm holiday operators, a farmer must attend a minimum 100 hour training course for farm holidays operators, organized on a provincial or inter-provincial basis by the farm holiday associations acknowledged at the national level or by other educational bodies acknowledged at the regional level. The certificate obtained after the course and the final interview in front of the Provincial Farm Holiday Commission is a necessary condition to be granted the administration's authorization to start the activity.
After the certificate is obtained, the farmer must present the application to enter the registry of the farm holiday activities, together with the Farm Holiday Plan to the Provincial Farm Holiday commission.
Therefore, the regional law establishes the principles, the goals and the conditions to run a farm holiday site in the Veneto Region. This law is followed by the Feasible Regulations dated 12th September 1997, no. 2, which specifies in the article 6 that the hospitality in open spaces can be offered, preparing some spots where the tents and/or caravans and/or autocaravans can stop. The maximum number of people that can be accepted at the same time, both at the open air camping site and at the farm, is defined by the Farm Holiday Plan.
The Feasible Regulations are followed by the Decree of Regional Council No. 3590, who approves the Farm Holiday Plan, as foreseen by article 43 of Regional Law no. 9/97 and defines the parameters/criteria of the farmer.
Finally the administration where the farmer operates issues the authorization concerning the destination of use and the authorization to run a farm holiday site: the destination of use of the area determines work; the authorization of running the activity is evaluated by the Provincial Commission that issues a classification decree and some local sanitary units.
After the farm holiday activity has been defined and the fundamental points that determine the existence of its open air "version" have been underlined, we can now define the sector of country camping.
To run a country camping site, the farm must supply drinkable water, electrical power, an area where dishes and laundry can be washed, and it must also be able to offer a sufficient surface of open spaces devoted to parking and have the following requisites:
Moreover, in a few zones, the authorization to camping is allowed, provided that the guest can use the house services (in this event, the necessary ratio between people and hygienic services must always be observed; moreover, the farm must be equipped with a room with a sink for dishes and a tub for laundry).
With concern to drainage (in particular, chemical toilets installed in a camper or caravan), a well must be prepared and periodically emptied, whereas its content shall be transported to the proper dumping areas by authorized companies.
Finally, the norms on architectonical barriers establish that 15% of the surface devoted to the country camping site must be organized with at least 2 parking areas equipped with handicapped person facilities. According to the regional norms, it is appropriate to take care of the access of the parking sites, the panorama of the site and its shading.
Summarizing: the farm holiday activity and the country camping site may be run by a farmer that must be running a farm for at least two years by using his own company (owned or managed) in connection and complementarity concerning agricultural activity. Among the subjects authorized to run an agricultural activity and the farm holiday activities, there are the following: the associations of all types among farmers, the Agricultural Cooperatives and other partnerships (such as S.n.c., S.a.s., S.r.l. and S.p.A.).
The main farm holiday activities include the following: to give hospitality in rooms or apartments or in open spaces, offer food or snacks and drinks made for farm products, to organize entertainment and cultural activities that aim to entertain guests, to sell farm products, to transform the products of the farm and to use them in the farm holidays.
The farmer that wants to start a farm holiday activity and a country camping site must perform the following:
Now we will describe the subjects and their work relevant to this issue, considering the bodies, the institutions, the agencies that are competent in this subject, such as the Regional body, the Provincial body, the Provincial commissions for Farm holidays and the administrations.
The Regional body defines the norms that regulate the farm holiday activity in the regional territory and it programs, coordinates and promotes the initiatives relevant to this activity and delegates to the Provincial body, by Regional law 9/97, the administrative and control functions of the farm holiday activity. The Farm holidays provincial commissions, established in the Provinces, are in charge of the preliminary examination application to the farm holiday operator registry and of the evaluation of the Farm Holiday Plan. Finally, the body is in charge of the operator evaluation with an interview to verify the results he got from the training course; moreover, the Commission registers the operators in the provincial list of farm holiday operators and informs the administration of the location the farm holidays will be located. The Administrations, seeing the results of the Provincial Commission and the reports from the Local Sanitary Units, issue the authorization for the farm holiday activity. [Finally, in the appendix of the work, there is a note for pointing out that, on the 18th May 2005, the House of Representatives approved the Bill which is now under examination at the Senate of the Republic about the Discipline of Farm Holidays abrogating the previous National Law of 5th December 1985, no 730. ] .
The empiric evidence given by the above mentioned statistical data is that open air tourism has entered in a mature phase of its cycle of life: the entrance of new emergent markets, Eastern Europe, Scandinavian Countries and Anglo-Saxon Countries, only partially answers the important decrease of the "traditional" demand flows (the main market is the German one). Moreover, the new markets have intrinsic peculiarities not always homogeneous with the business model, which has been developed until now.
As a direct consequence of the present situation, the public and private decision-maker agencies have to apply themselves for the implementation of a product which, over time, is progressively finishing its capacity of expansion. The implementation of a complex product, such as the open air product, can develop, according to different strategic lines: an example is given by the foreign experiences, where an innovative enlargement of the offering of recreational activities to propose inside a tourist structure has occurred together with the renovation of the facilities of the structures. Moreover, a greater attention to the quality of the service, also through the training of the internal personnel, has been developed together with the improvement of the physical offering.
Anyway, the dualism that, over time, has opposed indoorr and outdoor activities to the accommodation operators, who were against all activities which took place outside their commercial areas, has been progressively overcome through the awareness that the surrounding territory does not represent only a simple operational area, but also an essential element for success inside a global competitive sector.
According to these considerations, and to the awareness of a continuous evolution of the market, a new type of combination of different activities is defined in the open air phenomenon in order to discover the territorial, naturalistic and eco-systemic richness of a structure: from the union between the agricultural/rural context and the open air accommodation, a new "hybrid" accommodation structure, between a campsite and a country inn, was born: country camping.
Now we will focus our attention on the particular case history of the Venetian Coast. The main statistical data allow us to understand the strategic role of the open air section for the whole Venetian sector: the necessary revival of the section is amplified by the centrality of it, in comparison to the reference tourist context.
Considering the number of bed places, the structures of the Veneto region represent, on a national level, 16% of the open air accommodation capacity, 2/3 of which is represented by the territory of the province of Venice (nearly 10% of the entire Italian offering), and, in particular, by the coastal towns along with Cavallino Treporti, which alone covers 5% of the open air bed places at the national level.
Given the importance of the open air sector for the Venetian tourist system, demonstrated by the above mentioned data, the analysis of the demand flows is alarming: with a percentage of 18% of arrivals and 32% of presences, open air tourism represents, for the province of Venice, a strategic sector, where during 2001-2004 years and, in particular, during 2002 and 2003, an important, structural and contingent reduction of presences (-8%) occurred.
To fully understand the reasons for this drop, it is not only necessary to contextualize the situation in a more global crisis, which affected all economical sectors, tourism included, but to understand and analyze the characteristics and the changes of the demand.
By considering the "variable" of the origin, the domestic demand represents 28% of the total flows (against the 72% of foreign demand). In particular, the main market is the German-language one, which, in the province of Venice, represents the 64% of arrivals and the 70% of presences.
On the contrary, by considering the "variable" of the destination, a strong concentration of flow towards the towns of the Venetian Coast is observed with 96% of the open air presences of the entire provincial territory, 50% of which stays in accommodation structures situated inside the Cavallino Treporti Municipality. The considerable presence of the open air tourist demand inside the Cavallino territory is also demonstrated by the importance of this phenomenon in the territory where 90% of the entire accommodation capacity (bed places) is dedicated to the open air accommodation.
After 2001, the year of the maximum tourist flow in the territory of the province of Venice, the local tourist system focused on open air went through quite a critical period, with a decrease, during 2002 and 2003, of 9% arrivals and 10% presences. The main cause of this drop was the considerable decrease of German-language tourists (-20% in 2001-2004), who, because of the diminution of their purchasing power, chose other less expensive tourist destinations, such as Slovenia and Croatia that also have uncontaminated natural resources.
Public Agencies and private operators answered this dropping trend by promoting other initiatives and activities, an example being the Plan of Quality of the Tourist Area proposed and realized by the administration of Cavallino Treporti, to which the instrument of the Plan of Operational Marketing was joined. These instruments together with other initiatives are the start up phase for a new more careful policy of the territory.
To simplify, we have given the example of the intervention proposed by the Tourism sector of the Province of Venice that, according to its task to make the internal tourist market easier from the strategic and operational point of view, has implemented a series of important territorial initiatives to increase the value of the natural, cultural and artistic heritage. Therefore, a series of instruments aiming at giving a unitary vision of the tourist offering of the area has been carried out together with the support of small entrepreneurs, helping them to know the complexity of the tourist sector.
These instruments are applied to the examples described before as the Map of the Provincial tourist territory, the Three-year plan of communication and the Annual plan of hospitality: these are guidelines and operational instruments that the Tourism Sector of the Province of Venice uses to highlight the appealing factors of the territory by considering the different types of "alternative" tourism such as rural and river tourism from the lagoon to the minor centres to direct the policies to the promotion of the tourist offering.
Considering the difficult balancing between residents, tourism and environment, which causes conflicts between operators, resident people and tourists, we can understand that the strategic decision to "take" the tourist on the territory must be combined with a careful policy of management of the public transport means, together with a "discouraging" policy of the private means; this instrument, together with the control of the quality/price ratio, allows the public body to manage the economical consequences that tourism distributes on the territory.
On the other hand, it is evident that the adopted marketing instruments can be useless if the "moment of truth", being leisure of the tourist experience, fails because of a negative contact with the territory and those who represent it, such as the residents and the tourist operators. That is why the training courses are particularly important; in fact, they aim at improving the operators' knowledge and awareness of the heritage of the surrounding territory.
The creation and development of an innovative hydride offering, the result of the combination between the open air tourism and rural and food and wine tourism is one of the best answers the tourist system has given: country camping is the most suitable instrument to become the determining factor of choice for the visitor.
This opening from private to public, from the facilities to the territory, is the key stone to relaunch the sector that is at the top of its evolutionary cycle and so it can only decide if to renovate and continue to improve itself, or preserve itself and accept the inevitable decline.