The 4th edition of the “Traveling by Bicycle 2024” Report, produced by ISNART and Legambiente in collaboration with Bikenomist, was presented on Friday, April 5, at the Cycle Tourism Forum within the Bologna Bicycle Tourism Show.

In a scenario in which tourism demand is increasingly characterized by the desire for moments and experiences with a strong emotional impact, bicycle tourism is characterized as one of the segments with a strong growth trend, within the broader context of active and plein air tourism.

What was an emerging phenomenon in 2019 is now the “loud and clear” voice of the country’s tourism offering, which is triggering a virtuous circuit between an increasingly attentive demand, characterized by cross-cutting interests and a medium-to-high spending capacity, and a range of services that are becoming more specialized, so that cycling tourism is one of the new leading tourism in the experiential and emotional sphere.

Cycle tourists generated 56.8 million admissions in 2023

This positive trend, albeit with the inevitable ups and downs typical of a consolidating phenomenon, has been confirmed in recent years: the Observatory on the Economy of Tourism of the Chambers of Commerce returns an estimate of more than 56 million bicycle tourism presences in 2023, 6.7 percent of the total presences recorded in Italy.
The element that appears to be relevant is that which sees the presences directly associated with bicycle tourism enjoyment not only realigning with the pre-pandemic figure, a phenomenon that has been recorded for other tourism products as well; but rather, growing by an additional 4 percent compared to the 54 million presences recorded in 2019, a year that, as we all know, represented the peak of Italian tourism in the last decade.

The direct economic impact was more than 5.5 billion euros

It will come as no surprise, then, that bicycle tourism now represents an important item in our country’s tourism turnover, with a direct economic impact estimated at more than 5.5 billion euros as of 2023, up 35 percent over 2022 and 19 percent over 2019 (4.6 billion). The average cycle tourist spends 95 euros per day on the purchase of goods and services, an amount that rises to 104.5 euros for foreigners: figures that appear significant, if we consider that the average daily expenditure of total tourists visiting our country is 59.6 euros.

The identity card of the bicycle tourist

Data from the Observatory on the Economy of Tourism of the Chambers of Commerce return the well-defined profile of the demand: the cycle tourist in Italy, in the summer of 2023 is, for the most part, a Millennial (47%, + 10p.p. on 2022), with a medium-high level of education, has a profession (86%; +7.5p.p. on total tourists) and declares a medium (52%) or even medium-high income (24%), making it a very economically attractive target for territories.
Cycle tourists in Italy travel in the company: of their partner (41 percent), family (26.7 percent) or friends (17 percent).
Above all, it is a “transversal” tourist for whom the use of bicycles acts as a “glue” between varied tourist interests and motivations: from visits to the artistic-monumental heritage (37 percent), to immersion in the naturalistic one (36.4 percent), from food and wine experiences (24 percent) to those oriented to wellbeing in the broadest sense (8 percent).

The importance of the web and “community”

6 out of 10 cycle tourists use the web to gather information and plan their vacation on two wheels; the result is the profile of an active and aware tourist, who prefers to organize everything down to the smallest detail before even leaving, aware of the greater technical-logistical complexity of the vacation (equipment, transportation, accommodations). An extremely interesting statistic is that 22 percent of foreign cycle tourists are repeaters, meaning they are willing to return to Italy following an enjoyable experience, demonstrating a propensity to allow themselves to be retained that is certainly worth focusing on.

Bicycle tourists have a greater propensity to leave online reviews (6 out of 10), directions on routes and “techniques,” particularly aimed at their community, to which they are bound by a feeling of fraternity and belonging.

The “gentle but messy” revolution of national cycle tourism

One in 3 tourists say they chose a specific cycleway because it is well maintained, a fact that reminds us of the importance of proper planning and management of maintenance work on the network; 26.2 percent opt for routes immersed in an evocative environmental setting, in line with sensitivity to sustainability and interest in natural heritage; and 22.4 percent say they chose a destination attracted by a new cycleway, a sign of passionate, informed users who appreciate new features (and thus investment) in the dedicated infrastructure offer.

Regarding the type of bike chosen, nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) opted for MTB, 24 percent preferred road bike, 15.4 percent preferred city/walker bike, and 12 percent opted for e-bike, which allows to expand the share of cycling demand, bringing closer a segment of users who are not necessarily active in sports.

“We are delighted to renew our collaboration with ISNART and Legambiente, having contributed to the drafting of part of the ‘Traveling by Bike 2024’ Report and hosting its presentation for the second year in a row within the Bologna Cycle Tourism Show. The growth of bicycle tourism in Italy is certainly encouraging, and as Bikenomist, we are committed to training and networking between operators in the sector in order to offer increasingly appealing tourism products that are able to enhance even the most remote areas of our country.”

Pinar Pinzuti, Director of the Cycle Tourism Show and council member of EuroVelo