Off-Season Tourists and the Cultural Offer of a Mass-Tourism Destination: The Case of Rimini
This paper assesses the potential implications on off-season tourism of enhancing the cultural offer of Rimini, a popular Italian seaside holiday destination. Rimini, a city of about 130,000 people hosts a total of around 12 million overnight stays, 10 million of which are concentrated in the summer months. In the last twenty years or so, Rimini has been undergoing a policy of deseasoning, which mainly pivots around business tourism (a new fair quarter and important conference venues have been built) and cultural tourism (the city has been investing on both its cultural heritage and art exhibitions). This assessment is carried out through discrete choice experiments submitted to a sample of about 800 off-season tourists, that is, tourists who visited Rimini outside the summer months. Since tourism can be viewed as a composite good, which overall utility depends on the arrangement of the component characteristics, the choice experiments allow to disentangle the importance and the willingness to pay of tourists for different levels of the holiday's characteristics. The choice model incorporates as attributes a number of possible changes to actual tourism features (which are also the subject of public debate), including them in hypothetical alternative "holiday packages". The conditional logit analysis of the choice experiments can highlight the potential synergies and trade-offs between cultural and business tourism. Moreover, the methodology and the structure of the questionnaire allow a partial comparison of our findings with results stemming from two previous studies carried out in Rimini, respectively on summer tourists and on residents. Such comparison highlights synergies and trade-offs between off-season tourists, summer tourists, and residents.
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