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Thanks to public beaches aplenty, Italians are the Cote d'Azur's number one visitors

Thanks to public beaches aplenty, Italians are the Cote d’Azur’s number one visitors

The Cote d’Azur’s best customers aren’t Brits (second place). Nor Americans or Germans (in joint third place with 8% each of all overseas visits).

Say buongiorno to the Italians, who make up nearly 20% of all French Riviera tourists. And say benvenuti to the billions of tourist Euros they bring in each year.

That statistic includes this writer’s Milan-born wife, who does her best to add thousands to the local tourism economy in shoe purchases alone.

Not for nothing do Italians love the South of France. Firstly it has a 100 year legacy of wall-to-wall glamour that dates from Gina Lollobrigida to Giorgio Armani. Secondly the ‘Costa Azzurra’ is considered very chichi, a key driver for fashion conscious Italians.

Thirdly, and most importantly, you can drive. Car-loving Italiani crave accessibility. The business triangle of Milan-Turin-Genoa, which produces up to 40% of Italy’s GDP, is a three-hour ride away, or less.

(The shocking amount of paid vacation time also helps. Americans receive 20 statutory days off per year. Italians receive 38. You do the math.)

Before we discuss how to pull in these punters, we’ll state one other fact. Italians make excellent holiday rental tourists. Not only do they spread their vacation across the year (unlike Brits who spike in summer), they also spend far more.

Italians holidaying on the Cote d’Azur spend an average of €94 per person per day. Brits spend €81. Poor Germans only part with €78. And you don’t believe those official stats just ask my spendthrift wife.

So what are Italians looking for in a vacation rental? As the above figures suggest, they buy quality. That means top kitchens, comfy beds and designer furniture.

As only 7% of Italians fly in (most drive or take the train), parking places are a bonus. That said, balconies and terraces aren’t a must. Italy is a sun-drenched nation and its population prefer to hang out in a piazza rather than indoors.

The key factor is to advertise with an Italian-speaking agency. Italians are notoriously lax at speaking foreign languages, and prefer to converse in their mother tongue. It also helps to rent with a firm that has advertising links within la bella paese. Just as Pebbles do.

Fingers crossed, and buona fortuna for a profitable 2017.

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