Tourism in Italy – A Top Ten list of Which Nationalities Visited Italy in 2008

Ever wondered who travels to Italy?  And where these visitors travel from?  Well, I have, and have dug up some statistics on this very subject.

The numbers I’ve uncovered, which those in the tourism trade will already know about, I imagine, were compiled by the Bank of Italy, so they should be accurate.

Before reading on, which country do you think sends the most travelers to Italy?

Which Nationalities Visited Italy in 2008

  1. Switzerland – 12.20 million
  2. Germany – 11.59 million
  3. France – 10.14 million
  4. Austria – 6.61 million
  5. United Kingdom – 4.13 million
  6. Slovenia – 4.09 million
  7. Spain – 2.76 million
  8. USA – 2.58 million
  9. Holland – 2.25 million
  10. Belgium – 1.28 million

Were you surprised by the results?

Both Tourism and Business travellers

Note that the numbers above do not relate solely to tourism, but also include those who come here on business too.  Based on 2007 figures, a total of around 71.1 million people visited Italy.  According to the World Tourism Organization, the number of people who came to Italy on holiday in 2007 was around 43.7 million.   This means that approximately 38% of those who travelled to Italy in 2007 came for purposes other than tourism.

One could assume that the percentage is similar for the countries in the top ten list for 2008, however, a higher than average percentage of Swiss probably have business interests here in Italy, so simply reducing the total by around 40% may not be that accurate.

The Slovenia Factor

I was also told via a comment by Slovenian Fabio Turel, that it is probable the majority of people from Slovenia visit Italy on business, or to go shopping.  This means that before any adjustment is carried out in order to establish actual levels of tourism related travel, the figure of 4 million for Slovenia needs to be removed.

Still, regardless of the figures, even those who come to Italy on business probably spend money in restaurants and on Italian goods, as well as staying in Italian hotels.

What do you think?  Do the figures above surprise you?

I will be digging through these fascinating tourism related numbers some more and publishing the results here on Blog from Italy.


Bank of Italy Tourism Statistics

Tourism Stats.pdf – the statistics upon which this post is based – in Italian – numbers in 1000s.

World Tourism Organization – Tourism Highlights 2008 Edition .pdf file

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  1. says

    Add 4m visitors from Slovenia (2m inhabitants, btw) to your business-related adjustment, as day-by-day border crossing for small business and shopping is the norm here…

    • Alex says

      Thanks for that, Fabio.

      Interesting to hear that what appears to be the entire population of Slovenia visits Italy about twice each year!

      I’ve yet to dig in to the figures to see if there is a breakdown concerning visits for business and tourism purposes. Not sure how the two reasons for coming to Italy can be divided accurately anyway. Must check the World Tourism Organization methodology too, to see if their figures are based on statistical samples or real numbers.

      I shall edit the post to reflect the Slovenia situation.



  2. says

    This is a really great top ten list, I was surprised to see Switzerland over Germany. Germany has so many people and they have a culture of travel, in fact, when I visited friends in Germany, they took me to Norther Italy. Anyone can post their own list to our site The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  3. says

    What amuses me is that there are only 7+ million people living in Switzerland. So evidently they all visited – almost twice. :)

    I also have to believe that the numbers for EU countries are lower on this report than actual numbers, as they don’t have to stop at borders or show passports.

    • Alex says

      Like the people in Slovenia, Jessica.

      Here is the original data:
      Sorry, but the link will not take you to the exact location, for reasons unknown, try this: Pubblicazioni> link below to ‘Turismo internazionale’ > Viaggiatori stranieri in Italia > look for: Numero di viaggiatori alle frontiere, and finally, click on: T3V-SA

      Think I have interpreted it correctly, but I’d welcome a second opinion.

      Not sure as to the methodology behind the numbers, but one assumes the Bank of Italy knows what it is up to. And my figures do tally with the 2007 report.



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