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Tourism in Rome - statistics & facts

According to Roman mythology, the city of Rome was officially founded on April 21, 753 BC. However, people all over the world know “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. This catchy metaphor, used to remind that important achievements take time, also gives an idea of the millenarian beauty of the Italian capital, whose historical center has been a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. Thus, it comes as no surprise to find out that Rome was the leading municipality in Italy by number of overnight stays as of 2019. During this year, tourists visiting the city completed over 24 million overnight stays in hotels in Rome. However, with the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the following year, there were only about five and a half million overnight stays in Roman hotels in 2020. This drop in overnight stays is in line with an estimated overall reduction of almost 64 percent in the total number of tourist arrivals in Rome that year.

Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on tourism in Rome

The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the tourism industry, including that of the popular tourist destination Rome. As the Italian government initiated a nationwide lockdown in March 2020, many other countries worldwide enacted similar protective measures in efforts to stop the spread of the virus. In the Italian municipality of Rome, this led to a dramatic reduction in the number of international tourist arrivals in hotels. Prior to the pandemic, there were over six million inbound arrivals, but this fell to under 900 thousand in 2020. International visits from American tourists were particularly impacted by the pandemic. While in 2019, the United States was by far the country recording the highest number of arrivals in hotel facilities in Rome, in 2020 there were over a million less American tourists in the city.

As well as the number of international travelers visiting Rome decreased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the number of Italians traveling to this destination also declined that year, although less dramatically. In the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were nearly three million Italian tourist arrivals in hotels in the municipality of Rome. In 2020, Rome’s hotels were visited by just over one million Italian tourists, denoting a drop of over 57 percent.

Travel accommodation and cultural attractions

Focusing on the hotel industry, most hotel facilities in Rome were rated as three-star and four-star as of 2020. Meanwhile, when considering the non-hotel sector of the Eternal City, as Rome is nicknamed, the most common non-hotel accommodations in Rome were rented holiday dwellings and bed and breakfasts that year, while less common alternatives included farmhouses, youth hostels, and campsites.

Overall, the artistic and historical heritage of the city is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of tourism in Rome. In this respect, the complex of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the archeological area of the Palatine Hill is by far the most renowned attraction in Rome, visited by over 7.6 million tourists in 2019. The following year, due to the health crisis, cultural institutions had to close to the public for several months. As a result, the number of visitors to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill dropped to a low of just over one million in 2020.

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