Spontaneous Tourism and Sustainable Development The Evolution of the City of Naples
Fabiana Sciarelli, Valentina Della Corte, and Giovanna Del Gaudio
The aim of this chapter is to develop an understanding of sustainable destination development with respect to metropolitan cities that in recent years have shown spontaneous tourist growth.
The managerial approach to sustainable tourism development implies an overlapping logic between the demand and the supply perspective and the identification of a unit of analysis that allows establishment of a series of links between the two dimensions, that is, destination. A destination, in fact, can be defined as an integrated system of attracting factors (natural, cultural, enogastronomic [food and wine sector], etc.) and structures for the promotion and management of hospitality (hospitality, institutions, transport, catering, etc.) Destination can be analyzed according to the 6As model (Access, Accommodations, Attractions, Amenities, Ancillary services, Assemblage) (Della Corte, 2013).
This chapter draws upon a literature review, which sheds light on the overlapping perspectives on the topic and explores what factors enhance competitiveness within the urban context according to a sustainable tourism development’s perspective as well as the existing relationships among actors of the tourism industry, local citizens, tourists, and other stakeholders of the ecosystem (the whole of actors involved in the destination).
From a methodological point of view, this chapter addresses the issue of sustainable destination development with respect to metropolitan cities, particularly by examining the case of the city of Naples in Italy.
The strength of the investigation lies in the analysis of a city that has witnessed spontaneous tourist growth and therefore offers a different perspective from previous contributions on the topic of sustainable destination development.
2. Material and Methods
To discuss our research question, the study is organized as follows: we first provide the essentials of the conceptual and theoretical background of our proposal by illustrating the concepts of sustainable tourism and spontaneous tourism. Subsequently, we present Naples’ case study, highlighting elements useful to the subsequent discussion where we propose our view of spontaneous and sustainable tourism development. Finally, we highlight the main managerial and research implications.
To illustrate our theoretical background, we first briefly introduce the concepts of sustainable tourism and spontaneous tourism as well as their interconnections. The research methodology adopts a case study analysis and analyzes the relative qualitative results. Furthermore, the case study methodology is in line with the exploratory nature of this chapter since it is able to capture contextual richness and complexity of research issues (Yin, 2003), as well as understanding the social structures (Riege, 2003).
To capture these accurate reflections on sustainable destination development with respect to the city of Naples, in-depth interviews with pivotal actors (presidents of the main tourism associations, top managers of the Naples Convention Bureau) and other members were conducted following a predesigned protocol (Yin, 2003). Indeed, the interviews used a snowball method that allows information to be caught from both central actors and peripheral ones in order to obtain a more holistic view of who manages and how he manages the tourism sector according to a sustainable perspective.
Since 1987, the year in which the Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987) was published, sustainable development has become a fuzzy concept (Boluk, Cavaliere & Higgins-Desbiolles, 2017), dealing with different research topics within the tourism industry (i.e. governance of sustainable destinations, different pillars of sustainable tourism, models for sustainable tourism development, etc.).
According to the Brundtland Report:
Sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of the investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs.
(WCED, 1987 p. 9)
Despite the numerous definitions (Ritchie &c Crouch, 2003; blunter, 1997) of sustainable tourism, the one provided in the Brundtland Report remains one of the most current, given also the fact that subsequent studies have then recalled the main elements enclosed in it.
As a matter of fact, this is a recurring term always applicable and valid with reference to two relevant issues:
However, subsequent studies have also incorporated other elements in their analyses/analytical frameworks, such as the integration and coplanning logics of the tourism offer, in harmony with processes of protection and enhancement within territorial resources (WTO, 2002; Romei, 2009); the tourist-resident relationship; and the importance of preserving and respecting the latter, that is, the local community from the impacts of tourism processes (Swarbrooke, 1999; Lim & Cooper, 2009).
In light of these reflections, which are connected with the role of local community, this chapter explores the role of local community and other involved stakeholders with regard to spontaneous tourism. In the expression “spontaneous tourism”, “spontaneous” relates to an overlapping perspective between both the supply and the demand side.
As a matter of fact, from the supply side, destinations that have experienced tourist growth through spontaneous development (Pechlaner, Raich, Beritelli, d’Angella, De Carlo & Sainaghi, 2010) have not been established on the basis of the destination management organization (DMO). This means that there are no strategic programs and guidelines followed by tourist firms, local communities, and other stakeholders in the fields of either tourism growth or sustainable tourism development. Hence, tourists are not driven by the traditional pull and push factors (Martini, 2005). These latter are actions planned by the destination regions that motivate the tourist’s choice of the destination or one destination over another. The term “spontaneous” means causal since it is determined by tourist choices apart from the level of organization at a destination level and the lack of planned strategic and marketing plans. Thus, tourists spontaneously choose where to travel.
Consequently, tourism development is spontaneous and, within this framework, tourist firms, public bodies, and other private companies have organized their own policies without having a clear vision of the strategic tourism development of the destination (Saraniemi & Kyliinen, 2011). In most cases, local organizations adopt strategies as a response to local environmental changes and needs.
From the demand side, the phenomenon of spontaneous tourism derives from the lack of strategic and marketing policies within the network, which can better attract tourists according to their vocation of destination (De Rosa & Salvati, 2016; Perales, 2002).
In this context, actions concerning sustainable tourism development are the result of single actors (i.e. local communities, tourism firms, transportation firms, etc.) that plan in an autonomous way the best practices for social, environmental, and economic sustainable growth (Briassoulis, 2002; Tremblay, 2000).
Notwithstanding the numerous efforts made by different actors, at a certain point, the phenomenon of spontaneous tourism has to deal with either top-down or bottom-up logics (Rodriguez, Williams & Hall, 2014). In point of fact, the politics of spontaneous tourism and, consequently, the formulation of single development practices may also lead to asymmetric information, massive fragmentation, and effort duplication. Furthermore, individual strategies are not always sustainable, since the single actors cannot own the specific and holistic competences to plan appropriate/adequate actions.
Therefore, despite the individual capabilities that local organizations and entities may have or control, the lack of a specific territorial strategic orientation can prevent grasping all the possible opportunities offered by the market.
3.2 Planning Sustainable Tourism Development
A possible remark may be that, in view of spontaneous processes, a systemic approach should develop anyway. In such a case, it usually happens that a group of firms that share a common strategic vision start cooperating and then aggregating other actors. This is the most successful path of spontaneous tourism, even if it is important then to understand how representative the aggregation is of the whole territory.
Such considerations have led many scholars (Garcia, Luengo, Saez, Lopez & Herrera, 2012; Della Corte, Sciarelli & Del Gaudio, 2018; Heslinga, Groote & Vanclay, 2019) to state that a double approach is often necessary, and it should combine both bottom-up and top-down processes: the former expresses entrepreneurial initiative, and the latter provides a wide, open perspective in territorial planning and investing. This is relevant for multiple reasons—namely, the involvement of other institutional partners whose role is pivotal (airports, ports, and train station companies), especially with regard to planned and sustainable development, in terms of infrastructures, destination image, and overall destination marketing.
From this point of view, strategic planning is crucial for sustainable tourism development happening through spontaneous processes (Liburd &c Edwards, 2010; Della Corte & Sciarelli, 2013) and requires the active role of a governance actor in the immediate next stage of unplanned tourism.
The planning phases refer ro the formulation of activities that have to be (Liburd &c Edwards, 2010; Della Corte & Sciarelli, 2013):
Our theoretical framework emerges from these reflections. Figure 11.1 shows how spontaneous tourism can lead to planned and systemic strategies also in the sustainability field. In fact, in the first stage, where tourism flows are spontaneous, development strategies would mirror the single voice of tourism firms. In the following phase, networking actions would subsequently be necessary shaping a humanistic perspective for the tourism industry to value previous efforts made by the single actors.
Therefore, the suggested step from “spontaneous” to “planned” tourism (Park, Rene, Choi & Chiu, 2008) requires the capability of the governance actors to employ all the positive and identity-based sustainable activities enacted by the different actors of the ecosystem.
Figure 11.1 Spontaneity and sustainability of tourism
As can be seen from the model in Figure 11.1, spontaneity on both the demand and offer sides may generate positive effects on sustainable tourism practices. On the offer side, tourism firms and the other actors involved in the tourism industry should strive to (Lehtonen, 2004; Dwyer, 2005; Paniccia &C Leoni, 2019):
On the demand side, tourists can engage in sustainable practices in different ways, by:
• Со-creating sustainable experiences, suggesting ideas for greener activities, etc. (Jovicic, 2019).
However, spontaneous tourism may also generate practices and routines that are far from being sustainable, as the arrow on demand side in Figure 11.1 shows. Hence, leading actors in the governance of the territory, also through a planning process, favor the translations of the capabilities and best practices that have been developed in the spontaneous process into a more aware explicated and guided vision of a concrete process of sustainable tourism. This approach can take to a positive flow of actions that can account for the spontaneous representation of the local identity, thus naturally expressed by the actors involved in the process.
Over the past 20 years, tourism has experienced an extraordinary worldwide expansion, supported by lower transport costs and rising income levels. This has also affected emerging economies, resulting in a pool of potential travelers which has enormously widened. This increase in demand has been accompanied by the affirmation of new destinations, which have attracted a growing number of tourists.
Italy is among the countries with the oldest vocation for tourism. At the beginning of the 1980s, when tourism was still limited to a few international destinations, it was second only to the United States in terms of impact on global tourist spending. Italy also boasts an artistic heritage and natural resources with few equals in the world: with 54 of the 1,092 UNESCO sites, Italy is the lead country for having places recognized as world heritage sites.
In Italy, all tourist activities account for more than 5 percent of GDP and more than 6 percent of the country’s employees (Banca d’ltalia, 2018), an economic weight comparable with that of Spain and higher than that of France and Germany.
In the face of these global trends, Italy’s market share—like that of other mature tourist destinations—has inevitably contracted: from 7 percent of the world tourist spending in the first half of the 1990s to
3.4 percent in 2017 (Banca d’ltalia, 2018). The decline, although in part physiological, was more intense for our country than for the main European competitors.
Between the late 1990s and the beginning of this decade, expenditures by foreign tourists in Italy grew substantially, no less than the overall spending of international tourists and the potential demand expressed by the countries of origin of traditional tourism for the Italian country.
In the same period, the balance of payments on travel—while remaining the only item historically active—has reduced by more than half a point of GDP.
Since 2010 alone, there have been some signs of recovery, partly favored by an improvement in price competitiveness (Banca d’ltalia, 2018) and partly because of the rise of geopolitical tensions, which has discouraged travels to several competing countries that were at greater risk of terrorist attacks. Foreign spending in Italy has started to increase again at a sustained pace (4.3 percent per year on average, compared with 0.8 percent in the previous decade), significantly reducing the growth gap related to the potential demand for tourist services, which remained however negative. At the same time, the balance of payments related to travel balance returned to growth, amounting to 0.9 percent of GDP in 2017.
Among the distinctive features of this recovery is certainly a renewed interest of foreign tourists for vacation, and particularly for cultural holidays in Italy. In the period 2010-2017, international traveler spending on cultural holidays grew by almost 9 percent a year (Banca d’ltalia, 2018). As for the provinces preferred by tourists, the Italian province with the largest revenue inflow in 2017 was Rome (6,743 min), which recorded an increase of 20.3 percent compared with the previous year. Venice and Naples also showed a significant increase (+19.4% and +17.8%, respectively), while for Milan and Florence revenues were in decline (-2.4 and -6.3%, respectively) (ROMA, 2018).
Campania is the first region in Southern Italy for tourist flows: in the three-year period 2016-2018, arrivals grew at an average annual rate of 5.17 percent, significantly higher than the same value for the entire country, which stood at 3.4 percent.
In 2018, in particular—a year for which data are still provisional— arrivals and presences increased by 7.7 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, which in absolute value correspond approximately to 6.075 million and 21.132 million (Becheri, Micera & Morbillo, 2018). In addition, in 2017, tourist spending in Campania amounted to 6.041 million euros, ranking sixth after Lombardy (13.6%), Lazio (11.5%), Tuscany (11.5%), Veneto (9.8%), and Emilia Romagna (8%).
In 2017, Campania recorded an annual increase in beds of 16 percent, reaching a total of 232,592, equally distributed between hotel and extrahotel facilities, with a weight in relation to the national total that rose from 4 percent to about 5 percent.
Moreover, from 2015 to 2018, the local units of enterprises in the entire tourist system in Campania increased overall by approximately
10.6 percent, reaching 65,215 units. This, consequently, generated a growth of 23.7 percent in the number of employees, from 140,235 to 173,456.
A more detailed analysis shows how—despite the availability of six UNESCO sites out of a total of 54, 18 Blue Flag beaches out of 175
(10.29%), and 17 municipalities with at least one thermal establishment out of a total of 190 (8.95%)—in 2017, the region attracted tourist flows whose incidence on the national total was lower than that of the relative structures.
In detail, the following numbers were recorded in the region: of the tourist national movement, about 3.7 percent was directed to cities of historical and artistic interest, 6.31 percent to seaside resorts and 6.6 percent to spa resorts.
On the other hand, the positive performances of recent years have only slightly reversed the gradual contraction of the region’s market share compared with the national total. The contraction started in 2001, the year in which the Campania tourism movement had an incidence of
6.1 percent, which decreased to 4.8 percent in 2015, to then went up again in 2017 to 4.9 percent. Added to this is the high seasonality, which in 2017 reached the lowest point in February (442,614 presences), the peak point in August (3,792,414 presences), to then fall again in November (689,370 presences).
Furthermore, the major concentration of tourist flows and beds in the coastal areas in the provinces of Naples (64.4%) and Salerno (29.5%)—a phenomenon common to all countries—assumes particularly anomalous connotations in Campania, generating on the one hand a risk of massifi- cation in these territories, and on the other excessive marginalization of internal areas. These critical issues could also be attributed to a regional governance that is struggling to overcome them and that today presents numerous elements of complexity and a risk of overlapping competences.
The data reported so far come officially from ISTAT, but there is at least an equally significant part of the phenomenon that is not detected, both because there is no obligation in this sense, and because it is largely not declared, giving rise to the phenomenon of the submerged data. (ISTAT data, 2017). Particularly, this refers to qualitative data such as the planned actions for sustainable development, whether and to what extent tourist firms collaborate for destination marketing and management and whether and to what extent tourists perceive the tourism offer as sustainable.
4.2 Naples: Data, Trend, Result
The growth of cultural tourism in Italy is already a consolidated trend. This has driven another sector to become fundamental in the cities of art; namely, the extra hotel circuit, B&B, and holiday homes, which today represent more than half of the available beds, increased overall by a total of 196,000 units. This phenomenon has left ample room for growth to new small-tourism entrepreneurs, who have considerably increased tourist services to medium-level spending by offering products with a good price-to-quality ratio. However, the classical receptive activities have also enjoyed this growth, and, as a matter of fact, from 2010 to
2018 they have gone up by 32,000 units, a percentage growth of 126 points (Mazzone, 2019).
Naples is among the top five cultural tourism locations that have recorded the best performances. Between 2010 and 2018, it was the second-highest Italian city in cultural tourism increase—a trend in line with the national one. The record belongs to Matera (European Capital of Culture in 2019), with a boom of 176% in tourism. Naples occupies second place in the ranking of cities having the largest tourist growth, with an increase of 108.7% compared with 2010 (Assoturismo-Cst data for Confesercent, 2019). The city today enjoys a revival of its image, with its many cultural attractions that guarantee the satisfaction of a diversified and global demand.
To confirm all of this, the data provided by the municipality of Naples (2012-2017) show an average annual growth in arrivals of 9% and presences of 8%, and record an average number of days per tourist of two in 2017.
In Naples, foreign tourists spend, on average, 124.9 euros per capita a day; that is below the Italian average of 129 euros and is distinctly less than in other major Italian cities of art (Milan, 155.1,; Florence, 153.7; Rome, 142.7; Venice, 138.9; Turin, 126.4).
Furthermore, with reference to the 2017-2018 season, Naples had the highest increase in tourists, equal to 13.3% (+11.2% Italians, +15% foreigners), with Palermo (with +11.9% for Italians) and Perugia (+15.7% of foreigners) just above (Stylo, 2019).
The Fonely Planet website indicates that Naples is the coolest city in Italy for four main reasons: 1) nightlife; 2) street art, highlighting the murals that started to dress public housing; 3) the high number of vintage shops; and 4) domestic receptivity that hints at the typical hospitality of the Neapolitan people.
Further, this designation improves the international image of Naples. However, being cool is typically seen as a short- or medium-term phenomenon, especially if not managed and made sustainable in the long run. This could yet be achieved through specific actions that transform fashion into a stable value.
These specific actions, having to do largely with elements that are not measured but that involve the human sphere, the environmental beauty, and the consequent quality of Neapolitan life, are unquestionably linked to humanistic management. This is the only management style capable of governing a complex tourist experience in which the local population becomes a central player in the local tourism process.
4.3 Spontaneous Tourism in Naples
According to Gennaro Biondi, 2016, this remarkable increase finds its raison d’etre in at least three exogenous motivations. First, the tendential growth of international tourism now shows an annual growth of more than 5%. Of this greater demand, Naples (like all of South Italy) intercepts a much smaller percentage than the major European tourist cities (as well as Campania, e.g. with respect to Catalonia). Second is the destination changes “forced” by the new geo-politics, which are being defined in the Mediterranean Basin. In fact, the southern front from Maghreb to Machrek was destabilized first by the “Arab Spring”, then by regional conflicts, and ultimately by terrorism, to the point that in some countries (e.g. Egypt and Tunisia) tourism has more than halved. Third, there is an increasing propensity for holiday-makers to benefit from tour operators interested in economic affordability and traveler safety. This has coincided in Naples with the policy of many hoteliers, who have sought competitiveness through price control rather than on improvement and expansion of services.
These can be seen as cyclical phenomena that, as the history of the sector shows, may have a short life and therefore lead to tourism spontaneity that ultimately is not sustainable.
To these phenomena may certainly be added the spontaneous action of the Neapolitan population that has been creating a fabric of tourist micro-entrepreneurship, which brings immediate advantages, chiefly, safeguarding of the territory. This is the case in Quartieri Spagnoli, where the alleys have always been considered to be places of crime and therefore inaccessible to people. Today, thanks to the numerous houses for rent, B&Bs, small restaurants, and visits offered by youth cooperatives, these alleyways have become absolutely accessible, livable, and safe, providing advantages for residents also.
Spontaneous micro-entrepreneurship also leads to a greater need for environmental and urban care. Because tourism is ascertained as the industrial engine for the Neapolitan territory, it is the entrepreneurs who should demand and handle the cleaning and maintenance of the places.
In addition, the joint interest of local residents and entrepreneurs brings a level of affection to the territory that is not yet fully discernible.
A consistent demand, created by the positive conjunctures and the rising supply, can therefore be singled out. Furthermore, a positive contribution to the image of the city was certainly given by the Film Commission Campania, which fostered the overcoming of a period in which Naples was solely linked to crime and waste problems. The adamant work of its director managed to bring home some interesting projects such as the fictions “Sirene”, “I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone”, and also “Gomorra”, which have not only improved the image of the city but have certainly amplified its charm.
In sum, the problem today lies in how to render the economic growth structural, while identifying forms of intervention on a local and metropolitan scale that give answers to the new features characterizing the tourist demand. Particular attention should be paid to that segment that includes the “do-it-yourself traveller”, that is, the tourist who seeks “an experience to live” and not just a place to visit.
All this, consequently, imposes a substantial change of perspective, starting from the hypothesis that competitiveness in the sector is no longer between single localities with their material heritage but rather between economic-territorial systems, whose organization should include adequate material and immaterial infrastructural policies as well as complementary services that create value (Biondi, 2016).
Faced with these processes, companies in the tourism sector are showing growing resourcefulness, a greater systemic vision and a firm will to favor the takeoff of the area. The constitution of the convention bureau (CB) is an expression of this process in the meetings, events and congresses sector.
The latter consists of a network of private operators that represent the top players in the Neapolitan meeting industry. The mission of the CB is to enhance the exclusivity of Naples, promoting the city for the organization of events, congresses, incentive trips, and team building. The Convention Bureau Napoli attracts conference organizers from the national and international scene, who are interested in organizing events in Naples. The task of the CB is to facilitate and coordinate the relationship with the institutions and the operators within the sector.
This complex, spontaneous process, regulated by a state of freedom, in line with humanistic management, shows how social cooperation in territories such as the Neapolitan one rewards more than individual competition.
What remains to be understood is the link between spontaneous development processes, in a systemic and humanistic perspective, and the assurance of a sustainable approach in terms of destination management.
4.4 Sustainable Tourism in Naples
Italy historically presents a manifest deficit in the capacity of programming and coordination among the different levels of government and between the latter and stakeholders in the sector, with negative effects on the country’s ability to fully grasp the potential of the sector (Sciarelli, 2007; Della Corte, 2013).
This weakness reflects both the complexity of articulation of institutional competences, partly attributable to the progressive weakening of the central government’s role, and a wavering trend of the political choices in the past quarter of a century. The residual role of coordination entrusted to the central government, for example, has not always received the attention that a sector of such importance would have deserved, nor has it had a stable institutional position with respect to the same subject, since the specific ministry of tourism was abolished in the 1990s.
The Strategic Tourism Development Plan (PST) 2017-22 was approved with Government Act n. 372 of 17/2/2017, at the end of a journey started two years earlier with the “General States of Tourism” of Pietrarsa. The methodology introduced is innovative with respect to the past, being inspired by an open and participatory method, which provides for the systematic comparison among all the institutions involved and between the latter and the sector operators, in line with OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) recommendations.
The main purpose of the plan is to relaunch the tourist attractiveness of Italy, drawing inspiration from three transversal principles: sustainability (environmental, mobility, full use of heritage, enhancement of identities), innovation (of the organizational process and the product, with particular emphasis on digitalization), and accessibility (access modality to places and possibilities for tourist use). The document is developed around four fundamental objectives: 1) the diversification of the tourist offer, 2) the increase in competitiveness of the system, 3) the development of effective and innovative marketing, and 4) the implementation of efficient and participatory governance. Each principle is divided into specific objectives and lines of intervention.
In January 2018, the first PST Implementation Program for the 2017- 18 biennium was approved. Fifty initiatives connected to strategies and objectives of the PST were identified, and approximately 600 million euros were allocated to them. At the same time, a surveillance and evaluation system was carried out to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the tourism development strategies and, in particular, the actions implemented in the program.
In any case, this is a first step along a path that requires consistency and determination in the upcoming years. This should be done also in conjunction with the new asset of ministerial attributions, through the implementation of the outlined strategies, actions, and the more recent reforms, starting from the full functionality of Ente Nazionale Italiano per il Turismo and the National Tourism Observatory. The most difficult and challenging phase is precisely that of implementation. Improvement in the effectiveness of tourism policies will depend, first, on concrete efforts from all the public and private entities involved and, second, on the lines and objectives set in the PST and the Piano Straordinario della Mobilita Turistica (PSMT).
Sustainability of tourism requires that it integrate the natural, cultural, and human environment of territory.
The city of Naples already has moved in this direction through its spontaneous movement of tourist development. In fact, local tourist companies have chosen a strong local connotation both from a gastronomic and cultural point of view, preferring often suppliers at km 0.
Even the human resources selected are purely local, especially in small and micro tourist enterprises. Neapolitan unemployment in 2017 is equal to 30% in the complex and reaching more than 50% in the youth band (Eurostat data), and at the same time possessing a wide range of training linked ro both tourism and sustainability. For this reason, Neapolitan companies do not need to recruit human resources not resident in the territory.
Therefore, voluntary or involuntary actions aimed at developing sustainable tourism have multiplied in the area.
The actions that the Naples International Airport have chosen to carry out in this direction can be mentioned. Important actions not only for Neapolitan tourism but also for its environmental sustainability.
Always in this direction, we can mentioned the actions that have chosen to carry out the airport of Naples. The airport is an important city key not only of Neapolitan tourism but also of its environmental sustainability.
In fact, in terms of sustainability, the Naples International Airport (Gesac, 2018, p. 9) pursues the following aims:
The municipality of Naples, in this direction, with order no. 48 of 22 July 2015, established an autonomous organizational unit called “Promotion and Enhancement of Sustainable Tourism, Pedestrian Walkways and City Landscape Areas”.
There are other initiatives that, adopted by micro, small, and mediumsized enterprises, tend to bring Neapolitan tourism to sustainability in the long run, such as the affiliation of B&Bs to ECOBNB, the accurate segregated collection of waste imposed on tourists within the small Neapolitan hospitality industry and also on tourism businesses in general, the choice of local suppliers, and the widespread availability offered to tourists to use ecological means of transport.
5. Results and Conclusion
The case study of Naples has demonstrated how, faced with spontaneous tourism, public and private bodies and different stakeholders have hesitantly started a process of strategic planning in order to direct previous single efforts toward not only a vision of leadership in different tourist markets but also the enhancement and promotion of its unique tourist products.
With reference to the model in Figure 11.1, spontaneous tourism from the offer side can then be connected with the phenomenon of self-employment and new micro-entrepreneurship in the tourism industry. Some of these new business activities have already been designed according to sustainable thinking. For example, this is the case of B&Bs which are connected with the ECOBNB community, promoting responsible tourism with a low environmental impact.
On the other side, accommodations in Naples, especially those that are connected with a corporate brand, are oriented toward environmental sustainability and therefore employ low-impact generators to reduce CO, emissions and energy consumption, in addition to utilizing low- consumption LED lighting and high-efficiency heating systems.
Furthermore, these firms have focused their attention on hiring local people and on investing in training activities for young students, feeding the social pillar of sustainability. In this vein, a strong connection between universities and high schools has been established with the aim to provide new generations with job and training opportunities. Numerous local entrepreneurs, operating in the tourism industry, are closed to local association with sponsorship for social projects.
Regarding restaurants, historically, Naples’ offer is shaped by local ingredients that respect the identity of the place both in terms of recipes and raw materials. Furthermore, there is a growing interest in the formula offered by the organic farmhouses that are spreading throughout the surrounding areas of Naples. These examples hint at how the offer side is organized independently and seeks to open up sustainability horizons.
As a matter of fact, this “sustainable spontaneity” prevails on the offer side since spontaneous tourism on the demand side only refers to the lack of desired push factors by the local offer, influencing the choice of travel at an induced level of marketing (before the arrival at the destination, when the tourist has to decide where to go).
The Naples case study has also shown high spontaneity on the offer side. The Naples International Airport, managed by Gesac, is benefitting from it and making numerous efforts to systematize the tourism offer, also according to sustainable principles. As the model demonstrates, at a certain point in the cycle of spontaneous tourism, actors try to create networking strategies that respond to spontaneous development. In different directions, the convention bureau (meeting industry) and the Naples International Airport (destination) are promoting the territory, moving from spontaneous tourism to “planned from spontaneity”, as claimed in the model.
As shown in the model, the Naples International Airport has benefit- ted from the spontaneity of the city’s tourist offerings as a result of its marketing activities and its nature. At the same time, this actor has also worked through specific strategies to transform spontaneous tourism flows into planned flows, attracting new airline companies, enhancing existing relationships, and promoting the destination of Naples worldwide through educational and familiarization trips.
The challenges for years to come are manifold and require a shared effort from all the actors who compose the complex picture of tourism in Italy. First, it is necessary to develop a management plan for the conspicuous tourist flows that are expected soon. This is pivotal for the handling of the risk of overtourism in cities and areas of major appeal; the promotion of tourism development of areas exploited below their potential; the containment of overtourism in the cities of greatest appeal; the enhancement and promotion of the Italian country’s image in the world; the expansion of the digital services for both travelers and operators within the sector; the implementation of transversal policies that can affect tourist attractiveness; the adequate regulation of new accommodation arrangements, which should ensure a leveling of competitive conditions in relation to traditional structures, without reducing the spread of alternative forms of hospitality; the reduction of the seasonality of flows, for example, by developing congressional and fair tourism; and last, the negotiation with large global tour operators, who should work to attract growing tourist demand from emerging countries and govern its distribution on the territory over time.
To put it simply, Naples has to choose whether to be a tourist city in the strict sense of the term or a city that also lives on tourism. The city that lives on tourism knows how to preserve itself for its own inhabitants while selling much of itself to tourism.
Today, we are witnessing the proliferation of services for tourists and the disappearance of productive and artisanal activities and more. After many years of tourist shortages, the local tourist industry aspires to an advanced market, being, however, structured in an old-fashioned way.
The “postmodern” idea of tourism believes that cities develop it to compensate for the decline caused by deindustrialization. This is the case of England in the 1970s and 1990s, when the past became a national industry. As Robert Hewison observed in 1989, of the 1,750 museums then present in Great Britain, half had been opened after 1970: in just 16 years, as many museums had been established as in all previous centuries.
Every tourist place has a life cycle that, when it has reached its peak, inevitably tends to extinguish; each location has a receptive capacity beyond which both visitors and the local population feel discomfort in the enjoyment of the urban and natural spaces they share. The life cycle of tourist resorts can be schematically divided into three phases: discovery, maturation, and decline. Each stadium has its own receptivity threshold, so it is urgent to identify the right policy to transform Naples from a tourist city into a city that lives on tourism (Gardini, 2018).
The great risk that today the city of Naples also runs, as part of the national territory, is that the peak of interest becomes a boomerang and, therefore, instead of carrying out a marketing operation of the territory, it becomes a phenomenon of demarketing or overtourism.
In this respect, today the main problem is to adapt the city to the increasing tourist flows, implementing projects related to cleanliness, safety, and maintenance of both cultural heritage and green and marine areas.
To achieve these objectives, the systematization of efforts is a precondition for the sustainable and widespread development of a sector of paramount importance for the growth of the local economy. This is especially true when taking into account, on the one hand, the strong expansion of the international demand and, on the other, the enormous tourism potential still to be exploited. However, to make the current spontaneous tourism truly sustainable in the long term, strategic plans may not be necessary. In fact, when analyzing the territory, it is easy to grasp those strategic objectives that were already spontaneously implemented. Precise operational plans are instead needed, through the gathering of requests and needs from below and the defining of self-implementing plans to achieve the objectives that have emerged from the territory.
The spontaneous process of tourism is therefore governed today by a state of harmonious freedom which is absolutely closer to humanistic than scientific management. In fact, humanistic management aims to create a more balanced relationship between what can be exchanged on the markets and what cannot be, but which makes life interesting, that is, well-being.
Moreover, humanistic management is an operational and cognitive model that tends to transform the company into a social organization founded on the opening of the organization’s borders (Minghetti, 2004), in this sense the spontaneous Neapolitan process was based on the involvement of partners and above all of customers to show, beyond a communication that has always been governed and induced, the real Naples with its strengths and not only its defects.
The idea is a step-by-step programming with specific results of limited economic value but of immediate implementation. A bottom-up participatory system could be the key to adapting the territory to the flows while improving its sustainability. The institutions, in particular the municipality of Naples, could therefore define small operational plans in accordance with the micro-entrepreneurship of local tourism, which would be aimed to solve sustainability issues within small, local areas.
Nonetheless, the city still needs macro support from the municipality and the region, especially for the communication, construction, and stabilization of its image, as well as for its cleaning and maintenance. As for communication and image building, the Campania Film Commission has a key function in this, which can be carried out through product placement policies (Sciarelli, 2014).
As for cleaning and maintenance, the municipality surely plays a decisive role. In this respect, it would be necessary to define joint operational plans focused on territorial areas, to be implemented in the short term, thus bringing immediate benefits to tourists, entrepreneurs, and citizens.
An important signal in this direction, which also confirms the humanistic managerial approach of the city, came from the municipality through the permanent forum of non-profit organizations for sustainable tourism in Naples, which, in collaboration with the University Observatory on Tourism—Federico II, organized a first training seminar in January 2020 on sustainable tourism in Naples.
The aim of the seminar was precisely to help create a common language and experiment with good practices for a vision and a unified mode of sustainable tourism offerings in the city.
In sum, tourism in the city of Naples can already be considered an industrial sector (an addition and not a replacement of manufacturing activity) in that it is able to produce value for the development of the city and its metropolitan area. This is based on the data provided by one of the most recent analytical methodologies within the sector, namely the so-called presence multiplier, which indicates how much added value activates an additional tourist presence in a specific location: at the same cost, an additional tourist presence in Italy generates as a whole 103.4 euros of added value, while in the South and in the major cities south of Rome it is close to 70 euros (Banca d’ltalia, 2018).
In conclusion, it can be said that for the management of spontaneous tourism, in a city like Naples, accurate methodologies of analysis are needed and should be developed in a systemic way through the dynamics of tourist product management; the realization of a project of communication and construction of a differentiated image by tourist profile; and the implementation of individual operational plans of material and immaterial infrastructures differentiated by small areas. This could make Naples and its immense metropolitan heritage truly connected, available, and accessible to everyone, as the many examples around the world remind us.
From analysis of the case study, important reflections emerge, both upon the components of the proposed model—all are necessary at different levels—and the fact that sustainability does not enable the tourism of spontaneity. As a matter of fact, this phenomenon is often understood as “casualty”, despite its recurrence in the country. The features highlighted concern many, if not the majority, of the Italian destinations. The national system is experiencing a positive trend that is not the result of expressed strategies; it is therefore essential to plan a sustainable development process, in order to become one of the most competitive destinations in the world, also by virtue of an efficient humanistic management model.
Our investigation is undoubtedly limited because of a focus on a specific case study, but settings and implications are highly generalizable and ascribable, with due differences, to different European contexts.
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