The Italian tourism industry is likely to increase its focus on authentic and local experiences as a result of the Covid pandemic, according to the marketing director of the country’s tourist board.

Maria Elena Rossi, marketing and promotion director for ENIT, said the experience of catering for a predominantly domestic audience in the summer had led many tourism providers to adjust their offering, and said she foresaw that trend continuing as travel opened up further.

Rossi was speaking in a ConnecTALKS session during Italian Virtual Week, a special business-to-business event hosted in partnership with Travel Weekly that brought together 150 Italian suppliers with around 300 agents and buyers.

She said: “What we have learned is that we have gone back to some traditions, some authenticity and some local products which of course Italians want to find when they go on holiday.

“This is one of the legacies for the international travellers when they come back.”

Rossi added that the Italian tourism industry was hopeful that current restrictions across Europe would allow for some reopening of the sector in time for Christmas, and said considerable work had gone into improving safety, security and infrastructure for Italian citizens which would benefit travellers on their return.

Nick Rees, Alitalia’s country manager for the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltics, said Italy had been at the forefront of creating a safe travel environment, including trials of a rapid testing regime.

He said airlines had united in delivering the message that testing was key to the revival of international travel, and said it was crucial to show that rapid testing could be accurate and reliable and delivered through private partnerships to avoid impacting health services.

Anna Gricini, regional director of sales and marketing for Rocco Forte Hotels, said the luxury brand had already developed partnerships with testing providers to offer the service to guests.

And she said she was hopeful that there would be a strong rebound in international travel next year if restrictions were lifted.

Gricini said: “We are already experiencing a pick-up in international visitors [booked for] spring and summer 2021 so we are very confident in next season – potentially not at 2019 levels but to see a recovery of our most traditional international markets.”

Italian Virtual Week took place from November 2-6 and featured a mixture of luxury and mid-market suppliers, reflecting the breadth of product available across Italy.

In addition to one-to-one meetings, there was also a programme of live virtual group experiences to “truly give a flavour” of the destinations showcased.