Tourism in Italy

Tourism in Italy

Italy recorded a total of 38 million tourists in 2020, ranking 6th in the world in absolute terms.

Without including the size of a country, such a ranking list may not be very meaningful. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Italy, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.65 tourists per resident, Italy ranked 58th in the world. In Southern Europe, it ranked 8th.

In 2020, Italy generated around 20.46 billion US dollars in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 0.97 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 43 percent of all international tourism receipts in Southern Europe.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism

Back to overview: Italy

Most popular destinations in Italy

No less than 4 cities in Italy are among the top 100 most popular destinations worldwide. In 2019, Rome reached the 17th place with 10.32 million tourists. According to Euromonitor, all foreign tourists with at least one overnight stay were counted.


Tourism in ItalyOn average, each of the tourists arriving in 2020 spent about 450 US dollars. Conversely, the inhabitants of Italy spend as much as 511 dollars a year when they themselves spend vacations abroad.

Art and culture as a tourist magnet

With about 7600 km of coastline and a location on the Mediterranean Sea, Italy attracts tens of millions of guests from all over the world every year. In particular, the inhabitants of the more northerly European countries are drawn to Italy because of its pleasantly warm climate. Italy is known worldwide for its unique history, culture and architecture. There are over 100,000 historical monuments in the country, many of which date back to the times of the ancient Roman Empire. Over 50 of them have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites - more than in any other country. The city centers of Rome, Venice and Florence resemble a huge open-air museum. Builders from antiquity to the Renaissance have immortalized themselves in numerous cities with imposing monuments. World-famous artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Micheangelo and Raphael come from Italy.

But even away from art and culture, small towns in rural regions such as Tuscany attract visitors with an idyllic flair of dreamy alleys and vast wine-growing areas. Long sandy beaches in a warm Mediterranean climate offer sun-seekers plenty of variety in the warm summer months. Depending on the region, it can get over 30 degrees in the summer. Even in winter it is considerably warmer than in other parts of Europe.

The north of the country borders on the Alps, so in the winter months skiing is also a popular sport among tourists. A total of 290 ski resorts invite you to go cross-country skiing, downhill skiing or snowboarding. However, with the immense number of visitors from April to November, winter sports can't quite keep up.

Most popular travel destinations in Italy

  • the capital Rome with the Vatican and its numerous ancient buildings from almost 3000 years of art history and architecture
  • the lagoon city of Venice
  • the capital Florence (Tuscany), which is also famous for its Renaissance art and architecture.
  • also in Tuscany is the city of Pisa with the Leaning Tower and its great cathedral
  • the city of Milan in the north of the country as a center for fashion and design. Milan Cathedral is considered a Gothic work of art and in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie is Leonardo da Vinci's mural "The Last Supper".

Development of the tourism sector in Italy from 1995 to 2020

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Italy each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g., crew members of ships or flights are also not considered tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all 14 countries in Southern Europe.

Tourists per year in Italy

Revenues from tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 30.41 billion USD, or about 2.6 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 55.71 million tourists at that time and roughly 546 USD per person. Within 25 years, the country's dependence on tourism has decreased slightly. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, sales were $51.91 billion billion, 2.6 percent of gross national product. Thus, each visitor spent an average of $544 on their vacation in Italy.

In 2020, tourist receipts plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the $51.91 billion billion (2019), only $20.46 billion billion remained. This is a 61 percent decrease in Italy.

Tourism receipts in Italy per year

All data for Italy in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
202038.42 m20.46 bn $1.1 %533 $
201995.40 m51.91 bn $2.6 %544 $
201893.23 m51.60 bn $2.5 %553 $
201789.93 m46.72 bn $2.4 %519 $
201684.93 m42.42 bn $2.3 %500 $
201581.07 m41.42 bn $2.3 %511 $
201477.69 m45.56 bn $2.1 %586 $
201376.76 m43.83 bn $2.0 %571 $
201276.29 m40.94 bn $2.0 %537 $
201175.87 m43.27 bn $1.9 %570 $
201073.23 m38.43 bn $1.8 %525 $
200971.69 m40.38 bn $1.8 %563 $
200870.72 m46.19 bn $1.9 %653 $
200770.27 m46.13 bn $2.1 %657 $
200666.35 m41.67 bn $2.1 %628 $
200559.23 m38.36 bn $2.1 %648 $
200458.48 m37.89 bn $2.1 %648 $
200363.03 m32.62 bn $2.1 %518 $
200263.56 m28.21 bn $2.2 %444 $
200160.96 m26.92 bn $2.3 %442 $
200062.70 m28.71 bn $2.5 %458 $
199959.52 m29.57 bn $2.4 %497 $
199858.50 m31.34 bn $2.5 %536 $
199758.00 m31.42 bn $2.5 %542 $
199659.81 m31.88 bn $2.4 %533 $
199555.71 m30.41 bn $2.6 %546 $

Our data on tourist numbers, revenues and expenditures are based on information from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure international comparability, the data for some years or countries were manually researched and corrected if they obviously included visitors without overnight stays. In these cases, the data were taken from the official communications of the respective national tourism authorities.

The World Tourism Organization additionally points out that in some countries, the number of tourists is only counted at airports, while in others they are also counted at border crossings or even hotels. A comprehensive and reliable indication is therefore hardly possible in any country.

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